Republicans in the Ohio House are known to do a bang-up job of displaying what horrible people they can be, and their latest scheme with Healthy Ohio is a showstopper.
The folks over at the Akron Beacon Journal couldn’t help but notice, pointing out that even though 500,000 Ohioans now have health insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, the callous hearts in the House Majority will try all they can to undermine it.
The Republicans are concerned, you see, that providing health insurance under Medicaid expansion leads to a “culture of dependency.”
That concern drove the House to include in its two-year state budget plan provisions that would require many recipients to make a monthly financial contribution to a health savings account…
Under the House plan, a mother of three children living at the poverty level would pay $100 per month to maintain coverage. And if she missed a payment? She and her children would lose their health coverage for a year. The House dubbed the plan “Healthy Ohio” and called for the state to seek a waiver from the federal government for its implementation.
Of course, those waivers are supposed to be available for states looking to broaden their coverage, but the Ohio House seems to think that finding ways to kick people off their health insurance will do the trick.
(Remember when conservatives screamed and fell on their fainting couches claiming Obamacare was kicking people off their health insurance? Now they’ve found a way to actually kick people off their health insurance. Poor people. Because who cares about them, right?)
The Journal editorial board was having none of it.
People tap into Medicaid because they are poor. They struggle to cover the expense of basic needs. In that way, a small premium may sound reasonable. Then, the idea collides with practical reality. Something must give in the household budget. The likelihood is, that will be health care, a decision certain to prove more costly in the long run.
…Oregon tried increased premiums for Medicaid more than a decade ago. In less than a year, almost half of those previously covered no longer were enrolled.
Worth stressing, too, is that Medicaid is about health care. It doesn’t involve direct payments to individuals, or somehow feed dependency, as the claim goes. A recent analysis by the National Bureau of Economics Research found that early access to Medicaid reduces the likelihood of children needing government assistance when they are adults.
Yes, poor people are poor. That’s kind of the whole thing. So they often face difficult choices on how to spend what little money they do have, such as either paying the rent, paying the electricity bill, or buying food.
Those with a passing familiarity with the work of Abraham Maslow know that food and shelter are pretty base-level necessities. So if it’s a choice between feeding your kids and paying $100 into an HSA, most people are going to choose to feed their kids. Under the Ohio House Republicans’ plan, they will then lose their health insurance for a year for doing so.
Frekin’ brilliant, guys, well done. Tender be thy hearts.
To paraphrase the late, great Bill Hicks, I bet they sleep like babies.
“What’d you do at work today, honey?”
“Oh, found a way to kick thousands of poor children off their health insurance. OK, goodnight!”
David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.