Virginia Gonna Finally Let Poor People See Doctors. Tell Us Again How Voting Doesn't Matter?

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The Virginia General Assembly voted Wednesday to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though the White House warned them not to do it. See what happens when a state elects a Democratic governor and adds a pile of Democrats to the state legislature, as Virginia voters did last November? Now, some 400,000 more Virginians will have healthcare, overcoming years of Republican opposition. Virginia will be the 33rd state (plus DC) to expand Medicaid, leaving just 18 Republican-dominated states with no expansion -- and voters in Idaho, Utah, and probably Nebraska will have ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid as well.

Expanding Medicaid has been a popular idea for years in Virginia -- a poll conducted after last year's election showed 83 percent of Virginians in favor, including 73 percent of Republicans. In the General Assembly, though, Rs stuck to their absolute opposition to expanding healthcare, because if poor people can see a doctor, then a communist tanks would soon be rolling through the streets of Richmond, assuming any nominally communist country could afford to ship them over. Maybe Swedish tanks instead. But then voters flipped 15 seats in the House of Delegates, and would have actually tied the Republican-held House if not for some fuckery over ONE disputed ballot. Funny how losing complete dominance of the legislature can make people open to compromise.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch notes that some of the very few Republicans who voted for the bill said they'd decided to embrace socialism thanks to Donald Trump. Yes, really:

Virginia GOP Speaker Kick Cox said the Trump administration's openness to conservative reforms, including work requirements, "was probably the biggest key" in getting Republican support for Medicaid expansion this year.

And a failure by the GOP-led Congress to repeal and replace the health law helped spur several Republican state legislators to flip positions.

"There's always talk of repealing Obamacare; that did not happen," Cox said.

And so, of course, in order to get healthcare, low-income Virginians will have to meet work requirements, even though most people receiving Medicaid either already work or are unable to work, and putting the bureaucracy needed to impose those work requirements will, of course, cost money that could go to healthcare. Gotta make sure only the Worthy Poor are seeing doctors. Coverage will also be restricted through a requirement that anyone above the poverty line pay a nominal premium, because Republicans are jerks. Not surprising since, as the New York Times points out,

[Virginia] currently has one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs in the country, covering mostly children and disabled adults. Childless adults are not eligible, and working parents cannot earn more than 30 percent of the federal poverty level, or $5,727 a year.

The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which comes out to $16,643 for an individual.

Those are some fucked-up numbers right there. And it's a good reminder to Democratic candidates running in 2018: People like healthcare, and it's a good issue to run on. Especially considering that even after Trump and company failed to repeal Obamacare last year, the fuckers are still at it. As WaPo columnist Helaine Olen points out, a crowd of rightwing think tanks is preparing a beautiful new plan to eliminate Medicaid altogether and turn it into block grants, so states will have "flexibility" on healthcare for the poor, like diverting the funds to anything other than providing healthcare to the poor. To keep that from happening, Democrats have to take back at least one house of Congress this fall. As Topher Spiro, of the Center for American Progress, put it on Twitter yesterday, Obamacare repeal really is "on the ballot in every congressional race across the country."

Great job, Virginia, we're proud of you! Let's all make sure it sticks.

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[Richmond Times-Dispatch / WaPo / Vox / Virginian-Pilot / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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