Thursday, December 13, 2012

Medicaid... With Strings Attached?!

Tuesday evening, it looked like Governor Brian Sandoval was going to move forward in expanding Medicaid and fully implementing the Affordable Care Act. But now, it looks like he will do so with certain strings attached.

He also will ask the Nevada Legislature to begin charging Medicaid patients a co-payment for health care visits.

“It’s a co-pay. It’s going to be a small one,” he said. “But I believe that is the appropriate way to go on this.”

Really? Really?

There's a reason why people need Medicaid. They're poor. And yes, some Nevadans are so poor that they can't afford any kind of health care after paying the bills for everything else (housing, food, utilities, etc.). Medicaid is supposed to provide a way for the poor to access health care they otherwise can't afford. There's a reason why it's not like a HMO.

At least I'm not the only one seeing the absurdity of this.

Bob Fulkerson, executive director of the Progressive Leadership of Alliance, praised Sandoval’s decision as “humane.”

“It’s the right direction that we need to go in Nevada, and we commend him for pointing us in that direction,” he said.

But he had strong words for a co-pay.

“The reason they’re on Medicaid is because they’re broke. They have no money,” said Fulkerson, who supports higher taxes on Nevada’s mining and casino industries.

“We can’t ask the poor in this state to pay any more,” he said. “That’s what this state does. We soak the poor.”

I can sense why Sandoval is trying this. He wants to "split the difference" with conservatives and make it seem like he's "finding the right balance" on Medicaid. But again, the problem here is that it's inherently unfair to keep demanding more from the working poor while continually defending bailouts for multinational corporations and the super-wealthy in our tax code.

As we've discussed before, expanding Medicaid won't really cost Nevada as much as rejecting this program would have. In the long run, expanding access to health care like this will save the state money. So why screw it up just to "soak the poor"?

What's so grotesquely funny about this is that Sandoval continues to say he wants "lower taxes". Yet in seeking this, Sandoval essentially wants to raise taxes on the working poor. If he's really seeking new revenue, why not just go about it the right way by asking those who can pay to start paying their fair share for a change?

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