Want to reduce the number of uninsured people in your state three times faster?
Here’s a crazy idea: Stop sabotaging Obamacare!
A new poll from Gallup finds that states that built their own insurance exchanges and expanded Medicaid reduced their uninsured population by 2.5 percent, compared to .8 percent in states that did not, despite the fact that state-run exchanges in Maryland and Oregon suffered from technological problems even more severe than HealthCare.gov.
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent points out that that the conversation on Obamacare is changing. Republicans are relying on embracing the law’s goals while still rejecting the law itself.
The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi notes that Republicans have been saying things like “we want every American to have quality, affordable access to health care” since 2009. That statement was hollow after they did nothing to expand insurance coverage as the number of insured Americans went down by 7.9 million under George W. Bush. And it’s even more hollow in 2014, after President Obama was re-elected on defending the law, around 12 million more Americans have coverage, and Republicans have never voted on a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
It’s likely — as Democracy Corps’ Stan Greenberg has suggested — that this issue will result in a draw in 2014, with the economy being the deciding factor for whether Democrats can keep the two of seven seats in states Mitt Romney won that they’ll need to maintain their Senate majority. Other issues, like the minimum wage and personhood, may prove to be the wedges that help Democrats win tough races.
But there could be an echo of what happened in 2012 — when a slew of new voting restrictions were enacted to help elect Republicans — on the horizon.
“But the GOP’s suppression strategy failed,” The Nation‘s Ari Berman wrote. “Ten major restrictive voting laws were blocked in court and turnout among young, black and Hispanic voters increased as a share of the electorate relative to 2008.”
There’s also an echo of who was most affected by the GOP’s War on Voting in the Republican refusal to expand Medicaid, The Atlantic‘s Ta-Nehisi Coates noted last year:
Approximately a fifth (about 18 percent) of all people who will remain untouched by the Medicaid expansion are black. When you start drilling down to the states where those black people tend to live, it gets worse. In Virginia and North Carolina, 30 percent of those who are going to miss out are black. In South Carolina and Georgia, the number is around 40 percent. In Louisiana and Mississippi, you are talking about 50 percent of those who would be eligible for the expansion but who will go uncovered.
If these voters showed up at the polls with the intent of getting the expansion of health insurance their state is paying for anyway, it could change several elections and help Democrats keep the Senate.
Here are five states where Obamacare may help Democrats win.
Photo: LeDawna’s Pics via Flickr
Does Scott Brown support Medicaid expansion?
Does even Scott Brown know the answer to that question?
The new New Hampshire resident says he’s in the race to oppose Obamacare, but he hasn’t come out against Medicaid expansion, which just became law in the Granite State this March. The truck-driving, O’Reilly Factor guest-hosting Wall Street lawyer has two choices: oppose the popular extension of insurance coverage to 50,000 New Hampshirites, or muddy his entire rationale for running.
Photo: Beckwith-Zink (Diane) via Flickr
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is tied with her likely opponent Bill Cassidy. But the member of one of the state’s true political dynasties knows how to win by attacking the president when convenient. And she’ll embrace Obama’s accomplishments, like Medicaid expansion, and take on unpopular governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) when it helps her.
“The governor has clearly put his political future ahead of the future of the state of Louisiana,” she said earlier this month. “Let the people decide what is fair, whether they want to expand and use over $16 billion [in federal funds].”
If expansion is literally on the ballot, it could be a huge boost for the senator. Last year, Families USA found that more than 60 percent of the state viewed the program favorably.
Photo: Mary Landrieu via Flickr
Groups backed by the Koch brothers are outspending their opponents 10-1 this election cycle, and no one has taken the brunt of their attacks more than Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). The senator was elected as President Obama won her state in 2008. The tide turned in 2012, when a deluge of right-wing money helped Republicans sweep into power. Their far-right agenda — which included slipping abortion restrictions into motorcycle safety bills — made the state a laughingstock.
But the big money is still flowing and the far right wants Hagan out. Even though the senator is trying to distance herself from the president, the real pain coming from turning down Medicaid expansion is becoming more obvious every day. Two studies released this year showed that rejecting expansion for hundreds of thousands of people in the state could “cost North Carolina the lives of hundreds of low-income uninsured people per year and leave businesses on the hook for tens of millions of dollars annually in tax penalties, beginning in 2015.”
The Moral Monday movement was born to oppose the right’s resurgence in North Carolina, and this is the kind of moral issue that could make residents endure the new restrictions on voting to show up at the polls.
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Protestors inspired by North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement have been calling on Georgia’s legislature for months.
Georgia has the fifth highest uninsured rate in the nation and expansion would create 70,000 jobs, according to one study. Because Republicans refuse to take the federal money being offered, hospitals are closing.
Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee to replace Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), has embraced the Medicaid expansion. But she’s done it in a way that harkens back to her strong-on-defense father Sam, who served in the Senate for decades. She’s focused on uninsured veterans as an argument to expand Medicaid. This stand — along with the fact that she’s a moderate who has worked for George H.W. Bush and is facing several candidates who are most likely to be this year’s Todd Akin — could help her pick up a seat in a red state that’s on its way to turning purple.
Photo: Be The Change, Inc via Flickr
Only one state Mitt Romney won in 2012 both built its own exchange and expanded Medicaid — Kentucky.
Led by Democratic governor Steve Beshear, the state’s KyNect program has been a model for the nation, with more than 370,000 Kentucky residents signing up for coverage — reducing the state’s uninsured population by about half.
Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is hoping to be the Senate Majority Leader next year as he fights for his promise to repeal “root and branch” of the health care law.
President Obama is extremely unpopular in the state, as unpopular as McConnell. So McConnell’s likely challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, often sounds like a Republican when she embraces the law’s goals, but not the law itself.
However, that race, which shows McConnell and Grimes neck-and-neck, could swing toward the Democrats if Grimes — as the Washington Post‘s Sargent suggests – starts attacking the senator for trying to repeal Kentucky’s own KyNect program.