Over the last few days it has become clear what the Republican talking points are when it comes to their efforts to dismantle the Medicaid program. The plan is to lie by suggesting that the AHCA (House version) and the BHCA (Senate version) don’t “cut” funding for the program, but simply slow the rate of growth in the future. Dan Diamond zeros in on why a focus on the rate of funding is a lie.
Here’s the relevant number: 14 million, as in the number of people that CBO says won’t be covered by Medicaid if House bill signed into law. https://t.co/MEwW9LumVZ
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) June 26, 2017
In the midst of an attempt to obscure what is really going on with the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, it was fascinating to actually hear Kellyanne Conway make an argument that gets more to the heart of their motivations.
.@KellyannePolls: Obamacare opened up Medicaid to "many able-bodied Americans who should at least see if there are others options for them." pic.twitter.com/fzqvuwXrXB
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 25, 2017
She claims that Obamacare expanded Medicaid beyond its original intentions and opened it up to able-bodied people “way above the poverty line.” She goes on to say, “If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do.” In my home state of Minnesota (one of the most generous in the country), that position “way above the poverty line” is about $15,000 per year for an individual. That is strike one against the argument.
But what this really comes down to is the age-old Republican argument about the undeserving poor—a classic dog whistle reference to people of color. The message is that Obamacare provides Medicaid to able-bodied people who don’t want to work. If they’d just go out and find a job, they’d get healthcare through their employer like you and I do. That is strike two.
The Kaiser Family Foundation looked at non-disabled, non-elderly adults who are currently on Medicaid (those most likely covered by Obamacare’s expansion of the program) and found the following:
Data show that among the 24 million non-SSI adults (ages 19-64) enrolled in Medicaid in 2015, 6 in 10 (59%) are working themselves. A larger share, nearly 8 in 10 (78%), are in families with at least one worker…
Of course the problem is that for these able-bodied working adults, their employer doesn’t provide health insurance and they don’t make enough money to be able to purchase it on their own.
I understand that the world Conway and other Republicans inhabit probably doesn’t bring them into contact with many people in this situation. That, my friends, is the actual definition of “elitist.” But it is no justification for this kind of ignorance. When they plan to take insurance away from 14 million people on Medicaid, it behooves them to get their facts straight.