The really dangerous politics of the ACA
Republican governors and legislatures have let their hate of Obama get in the way of the well being of their citizens. Not only will citizens not get health insurance their states will lose billions of dollars in federal money. But it gets even worse:
The Obamacare website is open for business. But the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Folkston, Georgia, is closed.
Because Republicans in half the states have blocked the expansion of Medicaid, funds to public hospitals with large uninsured populations have been slashed. So far, at least five public hospitals have been closed this year and 5,000 hospital employees have been laid off nationwide. The closures are expected to worsen in the coming years.
In Georgia, as many as 15 more rural hospitals may close “within months” and in Tennessee, which is putting off a decision on expanding Medicaid, almost half of the 61 rural hospitals in the state might face “major cuts or closure.” This is a direct — and disastrous — consequence of Republicans’ ideological opposition to Obamacare.
This doesn’t just effect the poor uninsured but the middle class and even the wealthy.
There was really no downside to extending Medicaid to cover individuals who earn up to 133% of the federal poverty level. The federal government is covering 100% of the cost of Medicaid for the next two years and 90% afterward. Columnist Josh Barro has pointed out the bind: “(W)hen Republican state officials decline to participate, they will have to explain to both medical providers and potential Medicaid beneficiaries that they turned down free federal money just to spite the President.” And yet the 25 states that have indeed refused Medicaid expansion will soon find they’re not just spiting the President but also their own citizens.
The people who rely on these “essential hospitals” aren’t just low-income folks. Middle-class Americans who live in rural communities will have to travel 40 or 50 miles just to reach the nearest emergency room if these hospitals close their doors. (Bold mine, RB)
My niece is a medical professional in Texas tells me that the medical establishment in that state has been urging Governor Rick Perry and the Republican legislature to accept the Medicaid expansion for over a year and explaining the consequences of not doing so. At some point the pressure will build to put ideology aside and do the right thing but how many will die before that happens.