Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Brownback's body count

Katrina vanden Heuvel from The Nation writes a column for the Washington Post about another consequence of Gov. Sam Brownback's experiment.

We know about the economic damage his voodoo economics did to his state.

[... The] massive supply-side tax cuts at the center of his policy agenda, ... he ... promised would provide "a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy." Instead, it led to a deep hole in the state budget, a downgrade in the state’s credit rating and weak economic growth compared with neighboring states. As top income earners and business owners pocketed their tax cuts, Kansas’s poverty rate went up.

But there is another human cost to his ideology, namely the number of Kansans without health insurance because of his refusal to expand medicaid.

... Kansas has some of the most restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements in the country. The program is available only to non-disabled adults earning less than 32 percent of the federal poverty level, and most childless adults don’t qualify, regardless of income. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to raise that threshold to 138 percent, but Brownback declined to implement the Medicaid expansion. As a result, thousands of poor Kansans who would qualify for Medicaid in other states remain uninsured.

The stories from Kansas are heartbreaking, but unfortunately they are not unique. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, "Nationally, nearly four million poor uninsured adults fall into the ‘coverage gap’ that results from state decisions not to expand Medicaid." Republicans have full control of the legislature in all 21 states that have not expanded the program.

As with his tax cuts, Brownback’s stance toward Medicaid expansion is a reflection of the Republican Party’s national agenda. In fact, the roster of likely Republican presidential candidates includes three governors — Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal — who also opted out of the Medicaid expansion. Likewise, former Florida governor Jeb Bush expressed opposition to expanding Medicaid in Florida. And another prospective candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has come under attack from his fellow Republicans for embracing the expansion in his home state.

Elections have consequences, most certainly. As President, any one of this gaggle of Governors would lead us toward a nation of poverty and sickness just because of their belief in Goofy Old Propaganda. I guess their grand vision for the nation includes this person.

... One woman, RaDonna, is too sick to hold down food, let alone a full-time job. Yet, as a childless adult, she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid — and the state rejected her application for disability benefits. While RaDonna now lives with her sister, Cathy, she insists on helping with the laundry and dishes to earn her keep. "She can’t do the whole sink full of dishes without stopping and sitting down for a while," Cathy says.

vanden Heuvel concludes:

This "real live experiment," as Brownback once put it, has resulted in the pain and suffering of many Kansans. And yet, instead of acknowledging those consequences as a warning sign, the Republican presidential candidates have embraced them as a blueprint. It’s all part of the same GOP pattern — a continued retreat away from reason and toward a blind ideology — one that always comes with a body count.

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