The good news: Missouri’s 24th Senate district, a lean-Democratic district that just barely elected Missouri Tea Party luminary, Republican John Lamping, to the state senate will have a chance to redeem itself. State Rep. Jill Schupp (D-88) will be running against Lamping, or if he, as he has been hinting, declines to run again, whichever GOP clone gets the party’s nod to take his place.
The bad news: What Lamping and the state GOP have already cost Missouri. Just take a look at Lamping’s recent performance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Lamping appeared in a clip in which he tried to articulate the Missouri GOP’s rationale for refusing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, thus denying access to health care to about 300,000 eligible Missourians who are currently without coverage (the Missouri segment begins at about 4:10″ and Lamping’s appearance is 4:45″ in):
Lamping’s comments were contrasted to that of Missourian Bertha McIntyre who supports herself and her children on $1200 a month and who, needless to say, does without insurance:
Lamping: The entire cost of Medicaid in Missouri is one third of Missouri’s Budget; we can barely afford to be in the Medicaid program as exists today …
Stewart: Boy, that is a tough choice, should we, as a state, accept 100% of this program’s expansion costs from the federal government for the first three years, or, I don’t know, [bleep] it. But it is a tough choice some of your citizens are making.
Bertha McIntire: An I going to take food out of a child’s stomach, or am I going to do without going to the doctor? Which would you choose?
Stewart: Here’s the best part. These governors and legislators who refuse to accept Medicaid for that nice lady, all but three of those twenty-six states already take more money from the federal government than they contribute in tax dollars; they’re already burdens on the system. I believe that they’re referred to by those Republicans as moochers, moocher states. If statehood was healthcare, Mississippi and Missouri would be rejected as having that as a pre-existing condition. …
And there’s worse, at least if you think hypocrisy counts against politicians. As the Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling pointed out, Missouri’s legislative anti-Obamacare, anti-Medicaid brigade aren’t nearly so worried about taxpayer dollars when it comes to the taxpayer funded insurance coverage that is available to them – just another example of the GOP what’s-good-for-me-is-too-damn-good-for-you-so-suck-it-up-and-suffer ideology.
Schupp’s assessment of the legislature’s anti-Obamacare Medicaid tantrum offers an instructive counterpoint – and one that demolishes the dishonest Lamping assertion that we can’t afford to expand Medicaid. As Schupp observes, we can hardly afford not to do so:
The most important opportunity the legislature failed to act upon this year was providing healthcare access to 260,000 low-income Missourians. Timing was critical, because for three years, starting in 2014, 100 percent of the funding was to be covered by the federal government. Not passing the legislation for the 2014 start date means we lose one year of 100 percent federal funding.
Then, consider that the expanded coverage would pay for both doctor and emergency room visits. Currently, care for the indigent making emergency room visits is partially covered by federal DSH payments (disproportional share), helping hospitals afford to take care of the un- and under-insured patient. Part of the Affordable Care Act includes DSH payments winding down in 2014. This was an important incentive for states to expand coverage of Medicaid. Hospitals will not receive reimbursement from DSH, and in Missouri, because we did not expand Medicaid, thousands of patients will still not have insurance. Some hospitals, including and especially rural hospitals, are likely to close.
And there is more. For all the talk about economic development and competition with our neighboring states, providing this extended healthcare access is estimated to provide 24,000 Missouri jobs in the first year alone, and over the next several years, infuse billions of dollars into Missouri’s economy. Divergent groups from the Hospital Association to Insurance companies to the Missouri Chamber, Missouri Budget Project, Catholic Charities, Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice and Metropolitan Congregations United (and more) have all agreed to the importance of this initiative. Other than political ideology, there is no reason to have defeated this expansion.
Jill Schupp’s remarks make it clear that reasonable citizens of the 24th district have a viable alternative to Lamping or whoever else the GOP drags in; she’ll be a candidate who will try to do the best for the district and the state rather than mindlessly echo the revenant John Birchers who run today’s Republican party and who are also quickly running the state into the ground.