Opinion: Some states refusing free federal money, says Morristown man
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 5:56 am

North Country This Week did not independently check the figures in the following letter.

Let’s say you’re the mayor of a small town. And the state government decides it wants to give every local community an extra $100,000 for libraries. Now, as my hypothetical mayor, if you’re a fiscal conservative, you might as a private citizen think it’s not the best use of state taxpayer dollars. But once the initiative goes into effect, of course you’d take the money for your town’s library. It doesn’t cost the town government a penny. It’s a giveaway from the state. Who passes up free money?

I’ll tell you who. As of today, there are still 14 states turning down free money from the federal government to expand Medicaid.

In addition to the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer mandates, subsidies for lower income folks, and the prohibition on denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions, there’s a Medicaid expansion, paid for by the federal government and distributed to the states, expanding Medicaid coverage from just the extremely poor to more of the working poor, as well.

However, when the Supreme Court judged the Constitutionality of ObamaCare, Chief Justice John Roberts, putting on his best Solomon face and attempting to split the baby, saved the ACA by ruling that the mandates could be construed as a tax, yet also weakened it by allowing each state the choice to accept or reject the federal government’s Medicaid expansion.

As of today, there are still 14 states with either Republican governors and/or Republican legislatures that hate poor people so much they choose to turn down the free money. Free money! It doesn’t cost the state coffers a cent. But these states would rather turn down free money than expand health care access to those dastardly unworthy poor people.

Thankfully, John Bel Edwards (D) was elected governor of Louisiana in 2015 and reelected in 2019. And thank the heavens the abominable Matt Bevins (R) was voted out in Kentucky. Those states, as well as Virginia and others, are finally choosing to take the free money. But the 14 remaining states continue to echo what The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer has coined as the epitaph of the Trump era: “The cruelty is the point.”

Just in time for Christmas, the Trump administration put in more stringent SNAP requirements that may cut 700,000 Americans off of food stamps. The Party of Trump believes that poor people are not entitled to health care or food.

Sean Pidgeon

Morristown