I was on the Thom Hartmann show last night discussing Medicaid. I wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be, so I hope you’ll let me make up for that here.
Hartmann pointed to the example of Charlene Dill. Here’s lefty William Hamby on that tragic case:
…in Florida, Charlene Dill has paid the ultimate price for this political screwing over of the poor. Anything but “lazy,” she worked three jobs as a single mother. She had a documented heart condition that was treatable, but could not afford to go to the doctor.
….The Republican stonewalling of the ACA is hard to see as anything other than willful evil. It goes much deeper than one dead woman in Florida. We’re talking about millions of people who are suffering, right now, today, with conditions that are treatable. Some will die, and others will live in pain that could be prevented. People will lose their jobs over their illnesses. Some will lose their houses. Families will be torn apart. This is real world suffering that is directly caused by Republicans.
Dill may not have been able to go to the doctor even if she’d had Medicaid. Over 30 percent of doctors are refusing to see Medicaid patients. If she lived in Wyoming, she’d be in luck. Close to 99 percent of doctors their take new Medicaid patients. But she lived in Florida, where just over 40 percent refuse to do so. So, had Florida expanded Medicaid, Dill very well could have died anyway.
That happened to Deamonte Driver. For a refresher on Driver, go here. Driver died from complications related to an absessed tooth. He had Medicaid, but his mother, Alyce, could not find a dentist willing to take Medicaid. Interestingly, Deamonte’s brother, DeShawn, was also having problems with his teeth. It was hard not to read between the lines of this story and realize that it was not only a failure of Medicaid, but also possibly of a mother who probably should not have been a parent also society’s fault.
Furthermore, the best data we have, the Oregon Medicaid experiment, found almost no improvement in health outcomes from expanding Medicaid. In short, expanding Medicaid means expanding a costly program whose benefits are questionable at best.
Hamby argues that not expanding Medicaid is evil but, I wonder, which is more evil? Not expanding a costly yet ineffective program, or expanding that program and giving the Charlene Dills and Deamonte Drivers of the world false hope?