As Republicans and Democrats in Washington prepare to point fingers at one another for the nation’s health-care woes in the lead-up to this November’s midterm elections, new data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the Trump administration’s attempts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act have led to a marked increase in the uninsured rate among… Republicans. Overall, the national uninsured rate barely changed over the course of 2017.
Meanwhile, battles over Medicaid continue to rage in states across the country.
A judge in Maine heard oral arguments last week in a lawsuit against Gov. Paul LePage (R) for unilaterally blocking the expansion of Medicaid that voters overwhelmingly approved last November. LePage, a staunch opponent of Medicaid, blew past the mandated April deadline to move forward with the implementation of the expansion, which is set to extend coverage to 70,000 low-income people in the state.
Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy says she will issue a ruling as soon as possible, since expansion-eligible residents are supposed to be able to enroll by this July. During the hearing, according to local press, she scolded the state’s lawyers, saying: “The law is in effect. It’s not a suggestion. The executive branch has a duty to enforce that.”
The states seeking waivers from Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services to make drastic changes to their Medicaid programs are also running headlong into political and legal problems.
On Thursday, four Ohio Democrats wrote to Gov. John Kasich (R) pleading with him to withdraw his request for a waiver to put Medicaid work requirements in place. The state lawmakers charged that the work requirements would have a racially discriminatory impact, would create an administrative burden and would waste taxpayer dollars. Kasich’s proposal would force the 700,000 enrollees in the state’s Medicaid expansion to work 80 hours per month or lose their health care. But like the plan Michigan recently backed away from, Ohio’s proposal would exempt more than two dozen rural, high-unemployment, overwhelmingly white counties from the work requirements, but would not exempt high-unemployment black population centers like Cleveland because their affluent suburbs make the overall county unemployment rate too low to qualify.
“By pushing through a waiver that will have a detrimental impact to majority African American populations, this policy will exacerbate already existing economic and health disadvantages,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), wrote to Kasich.
South Dakota, a state that never expanded Medicaid but still wants to jump on the work requirements bandwagon, is stepping into dicey legal territory as well. Their plan involves imposing the work requirement only on its two most populous counties, which happen to hold the vast majority of the state’s (very small) black population and nearly half its Latino population. The state also plans to force its Native American population to comply with the requirements, which tribes, legal experts, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say is an unconstitutional violation of their tribal sovereignty.
Read More →