What a facile strategy to shore up the benefits of Obamacare: Paint its political opponents as racist, while bolstering the emotional weight of your argument, by suggestively alluding to past racial conflicts that have nothing in common with the present situation, save their GPS coordinates.
The New York Times’ Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff went for the full Walker Evans effect last week in a lengthy story highlighting the no-man’s land of health insurance limbo for poor people in States where lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid coverage, leaving the implementation of Obamacare up to the Feds.
“Because they live in states largely controlled by Republicans that have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor, they are among the eight million Americans who are impoverished, uninsured and ineligible for help,” the story states.
“… The disproportionate impact on poor blacks introduces the prickly issue of race into the already politically charged atmosphere around the health care law. Race was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the state-level debates about the Medicaid expansion. But the issue courses just below the surface, civil rights leaders say, pointing to the pattern of exclusion.”
Never mind that more than half those “Southern” States saying “no thanks” to a crippling expansion of Medicaid happened to be on Abraham Lincoln’s side (or hadn’t come along) during the Civil War: Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Maine, Alaska and so on.
The Times’ reporters hang their argument on the census statistic that 68 percent of uninsured poor blacks in the United States live in the 26 States that are choosing not to expand Medicaid. But governors in these largely rural States have seen past the short-lived incentive the Feds are offering in exchange for a permanent expansion. Sure, the Federal government has pledged to fully subsidize the increased cost of a swollen Medicaid register for “opt-in” States for the next three years. But then what? Even when 2020 rolls around and States are having to pay “only” 10 percent of the new costs, where is the money going to come from in rural States with low populations and comparatively small tax bases? Most rural States (which historically have allowed their governments to become more and more financially beholden to the Feds) have struggled in recent years to level-fund their mandatory expenditures such as schools and courts.
Now the few Republican-led Southern States that have declined to effectively take on yet another unfunded Federal mandate (in the form of the 10 percent they’d have to chip in to receive the Federal Medicaid subsidy) are again being singled out by the liberal media as bastions of racism.
Governors and legislatures in all the non-Medicaid States might instead agree that, whether Southern or not, any State where leaders are resisting the bloat of Obamacare is simply a bastion of common sense.