The good news out of Ohio is that the Medicaid expansion program has been upheld by the courts. This was part of the Affordable Care Act that was meant to take care of the people who fell into a gap, who earned too much (although still poor) to be eligible for Medicaid but did not earn enough to get affordable insurance through the new health exchanges.
When the US Supreme Court upheld the ACA, they also ruled that states did not have to accept the Medicaid expansion part of it even though the federal government fully funded it for the first few years and mostly funded it thereafter. And so we had the predictable result of states that had Republican governors and legislatures, in what can only be described as a spiteful act against the poor because of their obsession with seeing the ACA as the devil’s handiwork, blocking the expansion.
In Ohio, things were different. The Republican governor said that he wanted to adopt the program but the heavily Republican legislature blocked the move. So the governor did an end run around them using a maneuver involving a little-known body called the State Controlling Board. He also vetoed a provision in the legislature-passed budget that would have barred low-income people from enrolling in the Medicaid expansion.
Six Republican legislators and two anti-abortion groups then sued the government to block the expansion but on Friday the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-3 to reject their appeal. Even the three who voted against did not do so because they agreed with the plaintiffs but because they felt that this was a purely legislative matter that should not be decided by the courts.
So at least in Ohio, some poor people will be able to get some decent health care coverage.
As I said, blocking Medicaid expansion has to be seen as one of the vilest acts of vindictiveness in recent political history, a not insignificant achievement given the competition from things like cutting food stamps (the SNAP program) and eliminating extended unemployment insurance benefits. The people doing these things will not be happy until we return to Dickensian time and have people starving in the streets in large numbers, children in workhouses, and their parents in debtor’s prisons.
You may think that I am exaggerating but there are real people who think this way, as The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams finds out.
(This clip aired on December 17, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)