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Ohio Republicans Happy To Punish Poor

By The Reverend Published: April 23, 2013

So, you're poor and you live in Ohio and you can't afford health insurance for your family. You earn more than the federal poverty level, so you don't qualify for Medicaid....but don't make enough to afford private health insurance.

You learn that within Obamacare, the national health insurance reform which John Boehner has declared is "now the law of the land".....qualifications for Medicaid have been adjusted to 138% of federal poverty levels....which is exactly where you and your family stand on the Ohio income ladder. For a family of four, 138% of the poverty level equals a family income of less than $31,809. For a single person, 138% of the poverty level equals a yearly income of $14,800.

The Ohio governor, a Republican with no love for Obamacare, encourages the Ohio legislature to accept the expansion of Medicaid saying that Medicaid expansion in Ohio will help cover some 270,000 poorer Ohioans, add some $13 billion to the state's economy over the next 7 years, and result in much needed new job creation in the state. The $2 billion of new yearly revenue in the state from expanding Medicaid will boost the state's economy creating many new jobs in the process.....while addressing the still-above-7% unemployment number in Ohio.

Further, you learn that Ohio will not have to pay one dime to fund Medicaid expansion for the first 3 or 4 years.....and after that, only 10% of the expansion costs, the feds picking up the rest. As the head of a household earning just above the federal poverty level, you are hopeful that, finally, your family will be able to have health insurance coverage.

Then you find out that if Ohio expands Medicaid, it has been estimated that between the years 2014 and 2022, $857 million in new tax revenues will flow into the State Treasurer's coffers. Seems like a slam dunk, win-win for Ohio...and so your hopes are lifted.....surely, the GOP-controlled Ohio legislature will concur with the GOP governor and pass Ohio Medicaid expansion

But then Tom Zawistowski, Portage County Tea Party talking head, and the Ohio Liberty Coalition and other Tea-types in the state start pressuring Republican representatives in Columbus to reject Medicaid expansion.....sending a letter to GOP members explaining that if Ohio Republicans approve Medicaid expansion, they're bolting from the GOP altogether.

You learn that the political threat to Republican Party candidates from the extreme-right in Ohio is just too great,....

In a recent letter to Rep. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, Chris Littleton, head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, pledged to use direct mail to target voters if she decides to “take Obamacare funding.”

“We will bank these voters for the future, gather additional contact info from them with multiple touches (phone and door to door) from now until 2014 and have them geared up to vote for someone else in the primary,” he warned her.

Under pressure Ohio GOP House representatives vote to reject Medicaid expansion by 58-39. Your hopes of ever getting health insurance for you and your family are dashed.

You wonder why this happened. How could such a win-win expansion of Ohio's Medicaid program be rejected? You read what Ohio Liberty Coalition president Ted Stevenot wrote after Medicaid expansion is rejected.....

“Many thanks to those of you who worked so hard to see that House legislators said ’NO’ to the federal government takeover of healthcare in our state,”

(For) Republicans such as Rep. John Becker of the Cincinnati area, the problem is more fundamental: “I don’t want to bring new people into Medicaid. I want to get people off Medicaid.”

Calling it a failed government program that fosters dependency, Becker said he would cap Medicaid spending at current levels and restrict eligibility. He doesn’t want the expansion to add to the national debt.

GOP house speaker Bill Batchelder says that Medicaid expansion would be a leap into the dark. “This is so screwed up,” he told the OhioCapitalBlog. “We have all these regulations that have to come out. . . . We also have to know what it means if they don’t have the money in Washington. Those are pretty big challenges.”

Thirty-three year lobbyist Terry Fleming gives further insight into why Ohio Republicans rejected $2 billion in new yearly state business revenues while preventing 270,000 poorer Ohioans from being added to the rolls of healthcare coverage.....

(He) said it failed because of an ingrained hatred of Obamacare across GOP constituencies.

“I don’t think the interest groups backing the expansion understood how the label Obamacare resonates with Republican voters,” said an independent lobbyist with health-care clients who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “To them, Obamacare is like abortion. For Republicans, this isn’t a policy issue, it’s a core philosophical belief.”

"Core philosophical belief." Denying health coverage to 270,000 poor Ohioans, coverage which will cost your state nothing for 3 or 4 years while simultaneously adding $2 billion in new business activity in your state each year.....coverage which will result in the creation of badly needed jobs in a still-depressed state economy.....coverage which will make Ohioans healthier and more productive....has been rejected by Ohio Republicans because of a hatred of Obama, fears of "dependency" (the 47% syndrome), Medicaid expansion is "too challenging", "all these regulations", "uncertainties", ......and a "core philosophical belief" which includes the theorem that if you can't afford health insurance it's your own goddamned fault.

Finally, you understand. You understand why you and your family will still not have healthcare coverage when it was so close. It's because of a "core philosophical belief" of self-radicalized conservatives committed to making the poor, sicker...and the sick, poorer,....the rich, richer. It's about spiting a Democratic president. It's about a "limited government" collective fetish.

What it's not about is....basic human compassion.

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