Twenty-six Republican-led states rejected expanding Medicaid after a Supreme Court decision last year made expansion optional rather than mandatory. Two-thirds of the nation’s poor and more than half of the nation’s low-wage, uninsured live in those states.
In an op-ed published in the New York Times last week, the Times editorial board explained that leaders in Republican-led states turned down “incredibly generous” federal funding to finance Medicaid expansion costs. The funding would cover 100 percent of expansion costs for the first three years of implementation, then cover 90 percent of costs after that. Essentially, the federal government was offering free money to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured in states with huge populations living under the poverty level... and state officials — Republican state officials — turned it down.
So why would leaders in states with the highest number of America’s poor reject free federal funding for Medicaid expansion? According to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, the answer is simple: “spite.”
On Thursday night’s episode of The Daily Show, Stewart said that the conversation about Obamacare’s technological glitches is overshadowing the Medicaid expansion obstacle, which the host referred to as “total dickishness.” Piecing together clips from various news programs, Stewart showed people who don’t fall into the category who would be able to receive coverage under the Affordable Care Act and are also ineligible to receive Medicaid coverage — leaving approximately eight million Americans uninsured.
“What do you hate more: Poverty or Obama?” Stewart asked Republicans, as he showed Americans who had to choose between buying food for their families and paying medical expenses.
“The irony is that these states that are rejecting Medicaid expansion — many of them Southern — are the very places where the concentration of poverty and lack of health insurance are the most acute,” said Dr. H. Jack Geiger, a founder of the community health center model. “It is their populations that have the highest burden of illness and costs to the entire health care system.”