Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday slammed Republican governors who are ideologically opposed to expanding Medicaid in their states for putting their constituents’ health at risk.
“Unfortunately, what I think we have in a large case is governors playing politics with people’s lives and people’s health,” Sebelius said in an interview with HuffPost Live. “There’s no reason that this return on investment isn’t a very positive thing because there’s a cost of doing nothing in those states.”
Sebelius listed Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida as states that harmed black residents in particular by refusing to accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage. And in Texas, she pointed out, almost one in four residents have no insurance at all.
“It has nothing to do with the constituents that live in that state. It’s really about his own ideological battle with the president of the United States,” Sebelius said of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) refusal to expand the program.
Perry has compared expanding Medicaid in Texas to “putting 1,000 more people on the Titanic,” even though estimates show almost a million uninsured Texans could have benefitted from the extended coverage.
A recent Harvard University and City University of New York study supports the argument that refusing to expand the program could have lethal consequences. The study found as many as 17,000 Americans will die as a direct result of states opting against expanding Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Sebelius also told HuffPost Live that she spoke with governors on both sides of the aisle at the annual meeting of the National Governors Association last weekend. Attendees trumpeted the meeting’s bipartisanship, until Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy (D) got into a squabble about the economy at a press briefing.
“I think we could also grow the economy more if we delay more of these Obamacare mandates,” Jindal, who has rejected Medicaid expansion, said.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.