FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Do the Poor Deserve Health Care? These Politicians Say No

Photo by United Workers | CC BY 2.0

Between 2013 and 2016, the state of Kentucky experienced a veritable medical miracle.

In 2013, two of every five low-income people in the state had no health insurance. By 2016, only one in every 13 poor Kentuckians were going uninsured.

As a result, the share of low-income Kentuckians getting annual check-ups increased by a nearly a third. And the share reporting themselves in “excellent health” jumped by over half.

What generated this medical miracle?

Kentucky simply expanded who could qualify for Medicaid. The state funded the expansion with dollars from the Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislation more commonly known as Obamacare.

A great deal, unfortunately, has changed since 2016.

Republicans hostile to Medicaid now have a lockgrip in both Kentucky and Washington. In mid-January, these hostiles turned that lockgrip into a hammer — on Medicaid recipients.

The Trump administration has given Kentucky a regulatory waiver that will, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities documents, “reduce the number of people with health coverage and make it harder for those covered to get care.”

Officials in Kentucky claim that Medicaid needs a “work requirement.” But that makes no sense. The vast majority of Medicaid recipients in Kentucky, 77 percent, are already working. Most of the rest are taking care of elderly relatives or disabled kids, or have disabilities of their own.

No matter! The hunt for Medicaid malingerers in Kentucky will now move ahead, along with other changes that will hit the state’s Medicaid recipients with new co-pays and premiums.

All these changes will create a mountain of required paperwork. If recipients make a mistake on this paperwork, or miss a filing deadline, they’ll lose Medicaid coverage for six months.

State officials are, in fact, counting on that confusion. They’re proudly predicting that 100,000 poor Kentuckians could lose coverage.

The obvious question: Who’s driving this push to complicate — and cut — Medicaid?

The rarely acknowledged answer: America’s wealthy right-wing ideologues. These exceptionally deep pockets expect the elected leaders they bankroll to full-court press the poor.

This pile-on-the-poor ideology of America’s awesomely affluent spews out from the “think tanks” and academic centers they so lavishly subsidize. The hired hands at these outfits do all the heavy lifting on moves like the Kentucky Medicaid assault. They write the talking points and the legislative language.

Then the media outlets the rich underwrite finish the job. They demonize poor people as lazy laggards ever ready to snatch away and waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

This demonizing has been ratcheting up ever since the Reagan era. The richer America’s rich become, the fiercer the assault on the safety net programs that bring decency to America’s most vulnerable.

Why should that be the case?

Billionaires living in a society where many millions of people have no wealth — and shaky health — have a choice. They can consider their own wealth the product of a deeply flawed society that needs fixing. Or they can consider their good fortune a well-deserved reward for their own “superiority.”

Rich folks who do feel superior see people without wealth as inferior, as lazy no-accounts who deserve no “rewards” — not even health care coverage.

And all that talk about the “dignity” of work that pols love spouting as they rip the social safety net? They don’t really mean it.

These self-professed champions of “individual responsibility” have no problem with the idleness of the super rich. This past December, they rammed through Congress tax “reforms” that increase the amount of money that the lazy, no-account progeny of billionaires can inherit. Tax-free, of course.

Conservatives, in short, are cutting taxes for billionaire heirs and throwing 100,000 poor Appalachians off their health care. Exit a miracle. Enter a tragedy.

More articles by:

Sam Pizzigati writes on inequality for the Institute for Policy Studies. His latest book is The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970 (Seven Stories Press). 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail