When It Comes to Health Care for Poor Americans – Elections Matter

According to the newly elected Democratic Governor of Louisiana – John Bel Edwards – elections matter for poor people without health care. Here is what happened following his own election last year:

Edwards said the state already has signed up 204,000 people for the expanded Medicaid program since enrollment started June 1, with coverage starting July 1. He, along with of state Health Secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee and Medicaid enrollment director Ruth Kennedy, described the intensive planning that enabled the state to get so many people signed up so quickly, with the goal of enlisting 375,000.

But even bigger than that, here is what he predicts if Clinton wins the presidential election in November.

If Hillary Clinton and the Democrats win the November elections, four or five more Southern states will expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act next year, Louisiana’s new Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday.

“If it becomes obvious the Affordable Care Act won’t be repealed, a number of states will opt into the expansion fairly quickly,” he said.

Is Edwards right about that? If he is, as VP Biden would say, that’s a BFD!

I don’t have a crystal ball for prognostications, but I think Edwards makes a good point about the impact the November election will have. One of the reasons I say that is because of this report, which was released a few months ago.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation report released last week suggests that the Republican-controlled non-expansion states are seeing their share of Medicaid costs rise more sharply than expansion states.

In other words, if red states want to save money, they should expand Medicaid. There are other ways they would save money by doing so. One of the provisions included in Obamacare was the suspension of federal subsidies for “uncompensated care” at hospitals. It was assumed that this would no longer be needed due to the expansion of Medicaid. In those states that have refused to do so, hospitals are struggling and a lot of the business community is hopping mad. Here is how an economist who has consulted with the Texas legislature put it:

Totally aside from the health benefits, Perryman says, when you look at the numbers, “You look at them and you say, ‘This is a no-brainer. We need to be doing this.’ It’s really an apolitical situation. It’s just math.”

For six years now this has been a political situation. Republican governors and state legislators have been willing to deny health coverage to their constituents and limit their own economic development to simply make a point of non-cooperation with anything Democrats managed to put on the table. Will that finally come to an end once their fevered dreams of repealing Obamacare are finally over? Governor Edwards of Louisiana thinks so.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.