Greg Sargent, referring to Sabrina Tavernise’s piece “Law’s Expanded Medicaid Coverage Brings a Surge in Sign-Ups” in West Virginia” (see below),
asks “how would the GOP Senate candidate in West Virginia, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, respond if asked directly if she would take insurance away from all these people?”
Capito, a gung-ho supporter of Obamacare repeal, of course has not answered the question.
But read here how West Virginia Democrats and Democrats in other states who have criticized some aspects of Obamacare view Medicaid expansion.
As 2014 proceeds, will Republicans be pressed directly to account for the actual implications of their repeal stance? Republicans are supposedly going to offer their own alternative replacement for the law, but what would happen to those now benefitting from Obamacare? As Brian Beutler puts it:
“What will Republicans propose to do about the X million people who will be newly insured by the end of March? They dedicated the entire final quarter of calendar year 2013 to effusing sympathy for people whose insurance policies were canceled because of Obamacare. It would be incredibly conspicuous for them to introduce legislation that would then kick millions more people off of their plans, particularly given the unlikelihood that they intend to create a similarly generous parallel system. But the only way to avoid that would be to include a grandfathering provision…Even if conservatives would agree to preserve something as monstrous as Obamacare, they know better than to make that promise.”
When Mitch McConnell was recently asked by reporters what he has to say about those benefiting from the law in Kentucky, he pulled a homina homina homina. You’d think this question will be posed to more Republicans as the 2014 campaigning intensifies, and as enrollment continues to pile up, that question becomes more relevant — and perhaps more difficult — with every passing day.
Read more here.
TIME last week published a story about how an Ohio family came to love Obamacare.
Despite all we hear to the contrary from the official and unofficial “Obamacare Haters,” more and more stories are published every day about how poor and uninsured Americans — including unofficial Obama and Obamacare haters — have come to benefit from the Affordable Care Act, regardless of whether they love or hate Obama.
Today, the New York Times looks at regular people in West Virginia, where the Democratic governor agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility, and this is what the Times sees:
Waitresses, fast food workers, security guards and cleaners described feeling intense relief that they are now protected from the punishing medical bills that have punched holes in their family budgets. They spoke in interviews of reclaiming the dignity they had lost over years of being turned away from doctors’ offices because they did not have insurance.
“You see it in their faces,” said Janie Hovatter, a patient advocate at Cabin Creek Health Systems, a health clinic in southern West Virginia. “They just kind of relax.”
Sharon Mills, a disabled nurse, long depended on other people’s kindness to manage her diabetes. She scrounged free samples from doctors’ offices, signed up for drug company discounts and asked for money from her parents and friends. Her church often helped, but last month used its charitable funds to help repair other members’ furnaces.
So, when Ms. Mills, 54, who suffered renal failure last year, received “a blue slip of paper” this month with a new Medicaid number on it — part of the expanded coverage offered under the Affordable Care Act — “Ms. Mills said she felt as if she could breathe again for the first time in years,” according to the Times.
The Times explains:
As health care coverage under the new law sputters to life, it is already having a profound effect on the lives of poor Americans. Enrollment in private insurance plans has been sluggish, but sign-ups for Medicaid, the federal insurance program for the poor, have surged in many states. Here in West Virginia, which has some of the shortest life spans and highest poverty rates in the country, the strength of the demand has surprised officials, with more than 75,000 people enrolling in Medicaid.
And, “In West Virginia, where the Democratic governor agreed to expand Medicaid eligibility, the number of uninsured people in the state has been reduced by about a third.”
Still, even among those who most need insurance, there has been resistance to signing up. President Obama — often blamed here in coal country for the industry’s decline — remains deeply unpopular.
Chad Webb, a shy 30-year-old who is enrolling people in Mingo County, said a woman at a recent event used biblical terms to disparage Mr. Obama as an existential threat to the nation. Mr. Webb said he thought to himself, “This man is not the anti-Christ. He just wants you to have health insurance.”
…people’s desperate need for insurance seems to be overcoming their distaste for the president. Rachelle Williams, 25, an uninsured McDonald’s worker from Mingo County, said she had refused to fill out insurance forms on a recent trip to the emergency room for a painful bout of kidney stones. “I wouldn’t do it,” she said. But when she got a letter in the mail saying she qualified for Medicaid, she signed up immediately.
While “[I]t remains to be seen how Medicaid coverage will work once millions more people across the country are in the system…Gina Justice, a social worker with the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, said many of her patients have to choose now between medicine and food, so access to critical medications through new coverage will be a lifeline.”
“People tell us, ‘this is the food month,’ Ms. Justice said. “If you can take away that stress because now you’ve got a medical card, then you can focus on healthier eating that will help with these medical issues,” according to the Times.
Remember our first example, Ms. Mills, who “estimates that she has been insured for only a little over two of the last 12 years.”? For her, permanent eligibility for Medicaid is “a godsend.”
Last week Ms. Mills used her Medicaid number for the first time to fill a prescription. It was a Wednesday and she walked into Walmart feeling good.
“Now I’ve got insurance,” she said, “and I’m waving that piece of paper all over the place.”
Others, she said, seemed to have the same idea, judging by the line at the pharmacy. “It was plum over to the pet department!”
Read more of how people are beginning to appreciate Obamacare here.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.