The state legislative session just wrapped up in Idaho on Monday, and Republican Governor Butch Otter indicated he was pretty happy with what happened — and what didn’t happen. Because one of the things that didn’t happen was approval of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
The Idaho state Senate approved a measure that would have allowed the state to receive Medicaid expansion funds as a block grant. When it got to the state House, every member of the Republican majority voted it down.
Boise State Public Radio reports that some 78,000 Idahoans fall into the so-called “Medicaid gap.” Those are the people who make more than the income limit for Medicaid, but not enough to receive a federal subsidy to buy insurance on the exchange. Medicaid expansion was designed to bridge that gap, but most states run by the GOP have steadfastly refused to take the expansion, largely for no other reason than it was connected to President Obama.
Families USA published a report in 2012 that detailed the effects of not having health insurance on premature death. They found that nationwide, between the years 2005-2010, over 134,000 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health insurance. Over 500 of those deaths occurred in Idaho.
Dr. Kenneth Krell of Idaho Falls testified in front of the legislature and told members that some 1,000 state residents have died prematurely over just the past three years due to lack of health insurance. If he is correct, the problem is even more serious than what the Families USA report says. But of course Otter disagrees.
The idea that people are dying because they don’t have health care in Idaho, I don’t totally agree with that. I think the doctor was off-base. I see plenty of people that die every day in hospitals and they have insurance, and they’re in the hospital, but they still die.
This is what passes for scientific observation among conservatives. We’ve all heard it, and it always goes something like this: “All the experts can’t be right about [fill in the blank] because I know somebody who…” It means absolutely nothing to them that 10, or even 100 people with whom they are acquainted do not make up a scientific sample in a country of 300 million. But then, we know Republicans neither math nor science very well.
Otter stopped short of talking about dying when “it’s your time” or other bs that people like to throw out to explain why some die from preventable or easily treated illnesses. But that’s probably what he was thinking. If he would stop the time-honored conservative tradition of pulling information out of his ass, and look at actual studies on the matter, Otter would find that having health insurance is a big factor in preventing premature death.
Familes USA provides a list of reasons why the uninsured are more likely to die prematurely:
- The uninsured are less likely to have a usual source of care outside of the emergency room.
- The uninsured often go without screenings and preventive care.
- The uninsured often delay or forgo needed medical care.
Republicans in the legislature swear that they care about the uninsured, and promise to do something about the problem. Which probably means they’ll come up with a bill with some sort of grandiose sounding name that doesn’t actually do anything to address the issue. Maybe Otter and the Republicans in the legislature should give up their insurance polices. It would probably save the Idaho taxpayers a lot of money. And we all know that you don’t actually need insurance, because hey, people with insurance die, too. Butch Otter, the “health care expert” says so.
You can email the governor and ask him to give up his health insurance by visiting his contact page.
Featured image via Facebook