Earlier, I noted that State Senator Jane Cunningham attended Todd Akin’s kill-health-care-reform pep rally to push her Health Care Freedom Act. This bill would put a constitutional amendement on the Missouri ballot this fall that is based on fringewingers’ wistful reading of the tenth amendment, which they insist permits states, Civil War to the contrary, to opt out of federal legislation they don’t like – in this case, health care reform legislation.
The Beacon’s Jo Mannies reported that Cunningham got a standing ovation for this ill-conceived, last-ditch effort to subvert the will of the people who voted for Obama and his promises of health care reform. Do you wonder whether any of those fools applauding Cunningham had the teensiest, tiniest idea about what effect opting out of health care reform could possibly have on Missouri were it to prove possible?
Just take a look at this interactive map prepared by the Center for American Progress. Under the health care reform proposed by the Senate, 200,957 more people in Missouri would be newly eligible for Medicaid, individuals who will continue to be uninsured given the status quo. The loss of federal funds for Medicaid that would result from “opting” out would mean that Missouri’s uninsured would continue to exceed 700,000.
Nor, as has been amply demonstrated over the past few years, can Missouri effectively address the problem of the uninsured at the state level. As Ivor Volksy of the Wonk Room puts it:
Political considerations, special interest influence and budgetary strains have doomed previous state-based health care reform efforts and governors who believe that nullifying federal reform is in the best interest of their citizens are placing politics ahead of sound policy.
Substitute “legislature” for “governors”, and you have Missouri in a nutshell, with its 2008 nonelderly, uninsured rate of 14.5% – a rate that is probably quite a bit higher right now.
The Senate health care reform package would extend Medicaid coverage massively, providing subsidies that would reduce costs for state governments, employers, and individuals. It would also include incentives and reformulated payment systems that would work to make Medicaid more efficient. And yet there are people who will stand up and applaud a ideological nitwit like Jane Cunningham for her efforts to deny Missouri citizens needed benefits that give us good returns on our tax dollars.