While at the national level Republicans have thus far been unable to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – despite some of the sleaziest, most unethical attempts – Republicans at the state level have succeeded in sabotaging the policy by opting out of the “exchanges”, thus preventing people in their own states from obtaining much needed health coverage under the new law.
Data compiled by Theda Skocpol of Harvard University for the Scholars Strategy Network, a progressive group of academics, illustrates how states’ decisions to not create their own health care exchanges or expand Medicaid under the ACA have suppressed enrollment, effectively leaving people in dire need of access to affordable health care without such access.
According to Skocpol’s research, the 14 states that are expanding Medicaid and running their own exchanges have seen enrollment in Medicaid and exchanges at around 40 percent of projections. In contrast, in the 23 states that refused to expand Medicaid or cooperate when it comes to an exchange, enrollment percentages are in the single-digits as the graph illustrates.
Many Republican governors decided not to expand Medicaid under the law, despite the fact that the federal government was going to pick up all of the cost for newly eligible enrollees in the first three years and no less than 90 percent after that.
Texas, which has the highest percentage of uninsured in the country and whose governor, Rick Perry opted not to expand Medicaid calling Obamacare a “criminal act,” saw only about 14,000 people sign up using the exchange through the end of November, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In contrast, California, which has a higher number of uninsured residents than Texas but a lower proportion, saw 107,087 people sign up through the state’s exchange with 181,817 qualifying for the state’s Medicaid program through the end of November, according to federal data reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The irony, of course, is that those red states are red states because the majority of their residents endorsed and voted for Republican leaders and thus against their own self interest.
The numbers regarding ACA enrollment not only demonstrate the extent of the callousness of Republican policies, but – more importantly – they illustrate what happens when people pander to Conservative politicians. Chances are that the very people who could have most benefited from the ACA also constitute the basis of the votes that ultimately catapulted Republicans into leadership positions in those states.
That said, I must admit that I do have a hard time sympathizing with those folks that are now left with nothing, because, after all, they voted for people like Perry. This is what they wanted and this is what they got.
Remember that these are the same people who, in early 2009, went to town hall meetings for health care reform with guns and rifles holding up posters calling the President “Hitler” and “Stalin”, while dismissing his attempts at health care reform as socialism.
While it is true that not every person residing in a red state is unequivocally a supporter of the neo-con agenda and that there are certainly Democrats and progressives who live there and who are quite contemptuous of Republican policies, the fact remains that as far as legislation and leadership is concerned, the leaders in those states are neo-cons carrying out the agenda of the 1% because the majority of the residents in their states elected them into office, entrusting them to make decisions for them. And so they have; and so here we are.
I guess I could say that I hope that this will be a lesson for people who keep voting against their own self interest and that hopefully in the future we will see less of that, but I realize that this would be an entirely too optimistic stance.