Tag Archives: Medicaid expansion

Lessons from the South for 2020

New Orleans      It may be too early to make a definitive list of lessons learned from the off-year elections in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Kentucky, but the one thing that seems crystal clear is that the Democrats have some hope, the Republicans have some deep worries, and to the degree President Trump makes these elections all-about-me, he’s a loser.  Nonetheless, there are some trends worth noting one year before the 2020 US electoral sweepstakes.

When Trump heats it all up to boiling to pull his base out of the woods, he also pulls out his opponents, and those in the middle, as heavily.

In Louisiana for example, 385,000 more voters came to the polls in 2019, than 2015.  John Bel Edwards was reelected as governor at the head of the Democratic ticket with 28,527 more votes out of Orleans Parish, which is coterminous with New Orleans, with a surge of black votes, but also taking some Lakeview and Uptown precincts that are typically Republican.  He pulled 66000 more votes cumulatively from East Baton Rouge Parish and Orleans.  He won suburban Jefferson Parish which is nearly the size of Orleans and was the original landing spot of white flight, and the heart of Representative Steve Scalise’s congressional district and the legislative district that was represented earlier by Scalise and KKK stalwart, David Duke.  Early turnout and significant effort by African-American churches were also key.

Moderate, suburban voters outside of Louisville and Lexington were key to a Democratic governor winning narrowly in Kentucky as well.  The closeness of the race in Mississippi was also partially due to suburban voters outside of Jackson and in the northern Mississippi counties that include Memphis suburbs, where many voters had leaned and loved Republican candidates from top to bottom.  Observers in Mississippi have argued to me that Jim Hood could have won had the party been more united behind his candidacy, so there may be some stories beneath the headlines there as well.

Here’s another takeaway:  The Affordable Care Act is an election winner.  I heard Eddie Rispone’s ads over and over every time I was at the gym on an elliptical machine, and they were nasty about healthcare giveaways and money to illegal immigrants in Louisiana.  Edwards campaigned on extending Medicaid coverage in Louisiana, and it mattered.  Andy Beshear, the Kentucky winner, was also clear that he would do his darnedest to expand Medicaid under the ACA there as well.  Medicaid for All may not be a good political sell yet, but fix and expand the Affordable Care Act offerings definitely delivers votes and turnout.

Make sure to remember the fact that women have the ability to hold up more than half the sky when it comes to the 2020 election, and educated, suburban and urban women, have not changed their mind about Trump and his apologists should be on every list.  The impeachment circus may not yield much, but few women are going to miss the point of a former ambassador being bullied and intimidated by Trump or the courage of the women professionals willing to stand up and speak out about the president’s foreign policy narcissism.

So far Trump is doing a better job at pulling out votes against him than we are at pulling out votes for anybody else.  There’s no comfort in that conclusion, but it gives us hope and some paths to travel.

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What’s Up with Arkansas?!?

Milwaukee       No matter what P.T. Barnum once said, sometimes bad press is really bad press, even when they spell your name right, and that’s what seems to be happening in Arkansas now, thanks to the boneheaded right wing in the legislature and in Republican bureaucracy that is trying to punish the poor and lower income families.

The Economist is not what you could every confuse with a fake news, liberal, lefty rag.  It’s conservative, if not libertarian, on all manner of issues.  Nonetheless, there it was with both an editorial and a lead article slamming what it called “the Arkansas experiment” at denying Medicaid benefits to poor families because of onerous and inept reporting requirements for so-called “community engagement,” meaning work, volunteering or whatever.  The state was given the first such waiver in the country to allow it to essentially deny health benefits to the poor.  I’m already embarrassed for Arkansas, even as I write this much, but it gets much worse.  The Kaiser Foundation estimates that if all fifteen, largely Republican states that applied in me-too fashion to follow Arkansas were granted such waivers, it would push between 1.4 million and 4 million people off of coverage.

As The Economist reports in devastating fashion,

“The preliminary results from the Arkansas experiment look alarming:  18,000 people lost their health insurance in the first six months because they did not comply….Confusion seems widespread.  Many only realize they have lost insurance in the pharmacy, after trying to pick up a prescription they can no longer afford.  In some months more than 90% of those required to report their activities did not.  For the first few months reporting could only be done online.  More than 20% of those affected did not have access to the internet:  those that did found the website, which shuts down between 9pm and 7am, clunky and complicated.”

How can anyone from DHHS nationally down to Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas claim this is about “responsibility,” when their implementation is so completely irresponsible?

From there the Arkansas story becomes even more despicable.  The state has no way to count and isn’t much interested in doing so.  It’s own incompetence at determining where the reporting responsibility has failed or whether jobs changed, were lost or found is covered up by their own failure and whitewashed by Washington.  Hutchinson was left telling The Economist that he was sure one of the 18,000 “out there is healthy, has received a notice, understands the responsibility but just doesn’t do it.  And what do you do at that point? He asks.”  Wow!  I guess, Governor, you deny 17,999 in order to punish that one scofflaw bastard.  The ignorance and bias of his statement takes my breath away!

Oh, and then there’s the legislative fight to undue the will of the people in voting to raise the state minimum wage from $8.50 to $11 over coming years.  An Arkansas state house panel advanced legislation that would exempt “small businesses, some non-profits and teenagers” from a minimum wage hike approved by voters last November . On this one, Governor Asa Hutchinson and the state’s Republican party came out against the move. “I think the public has spoken on it and I think we need to abide by that,” Hutchinson said to the Associated Press.

Governor are you sure?  There might be one joker out there who will get the new minimum wage who you don’t think deserves it.  Don’t you want to punish everyone in the whole state of Arkansas in order to make them work harder because of that one guy?

Arkansas is going to have change its motto from the Wonder State to the WTF State soon.

Please enjoy Renée Wahl and The Sworn Secrets’ To the Bone.

Thanks to KABF.

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