Thursday, October 3, 2013

Screw The Poor

Lost in the apocalyptic debate over the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") and the attendant shut down of the Federal Government over it, is this little gem from the NYT this morning:

Millions of Poor Left Uncovered by Law:

A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help, according to an analysis of census data by The New York Times.

Because they live in states largely controlled by Republicans that have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor, they are among the eight million Americans who are impoverished, uninsured and ineligible for help. The federal government will pay for the expansion through 2016 and no less than 90 percent of costs in later years. 

Those excluded will be stranded without insurance, stuck between people with slightly higher incomes who will qualify for federal subsidies on the new health exchanges that went live this week, and those who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid in its current form, which has income ceilings as low as $11 a day in some states.
They wait till later in the article to tell you where this is but it's predominantly in the south, the Deep South, where poverty rates and minority populations are higher, that efforts are underway to keep Medicaid from expanding.
“The irony is that these states that are rejecting Medicaid expansion — many of them Southern — are the very places where the concentration of poverty and lack of health insurance are the most acute,” said Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founder of the community health center model. “It is their populations that have the highest burden of illness and costs to the entire health care system.” 

The disproportionate impact on poor blacks introduces the prickly issue of race into the already politically charged atmosphere around the health care law. Race was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the state-level debates about the Medicaid expansion. But the issue courses just below the surface, civil rights leaders say, pointing to the pattern of exclusion. 
For example, polls showed recently that while most of the country supports the Affordable Care Act, most do not support Obamacare. They're the same program, but the data in the polls show that how people view the two is tied to race. It's astonishing.

Almost as astonishing as the ongoing third world conditions over in Mississippi.
Mississippi has the largest percentage of poor and uninsured people in the country — 13 percent. Willie Charles Carter, an unemployed 53-year-old whose most recent job was as a maintenance worker at a public school, has had problems with his leg since surgery last year. 

His income is below Mississippi’s ceiling for Medicaid — which is about $3,000 a year — but he has no dependent children, so he does not qualify. And his income is too low to make him eligible for subsidies on the federal health exchange. 

“You got to be almost dead before you can get Medicaid in Mississippi,” he said. 
Or in prison. Because remember: the only population in the U.S. that receives free, unfettered access to healthcare (no premiums, no copays, no deductibles) is prisoners.

And read that again: you have to make less than $3000 a year to qualify for Medicaid in Mississippi.

That's what is lost in all the heated rhetoric and acts of stupid going on in D.C. at the moment. We have shuttered the Federal Government in this country over a "socialistic" health care law that won't even cover the most desperate and most needy members of our society.

Well done, all of you.

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