Groll: Awesome evilness (of refusing to expand Medicaid), 4/17/14

Happy to see the idiocy of refusing to expand Medicaid brought up again. This is from The Onslow Times, 4/17/14



Awesome evilness? You might expect to hear those two words in the same sentence from the mouth of a pre-pubescent youth in praise of Hollywood’s latest summer line-up of supervillains.

But the supervillains under discussion are real life. Political not pretend. And those two words flew out of the mouth of Jonathan Gruber, an MIT economist pummeling some conservative legislators’ studied refusal to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid.

Gruber is one incensed economist.

“[Conservative policymakers in these states] are not just NOT interested in covering poor people, they are willing to sacrifice billions of dollars of injections into their economy in order to punish poor people. It really is just almost awesome in its evilness.”

A recognized expert in health care policy and Director of the health care program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Gruber holds the bi-partisan distinction of having helped design Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care system as well as Obamacare. He knows of what he speaks.

He speaks in wonderment of states sacrificing billions blowing off their own economy along with the poor.

“What state would turn down free money from the federal government to cover their poorest citizens?”

Enter North Carolina. Our state already suffers from one of the highest rates of uninsured adults in the country at 24%.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 319,000 North Carolinians are now trapped in the Medicare Expansion Gap with no clear path to health care coverage because our conservative lawmakers refuse to accept the Medicaid expansion option.

Summarizing Gruber’s point, not only do too many of the conservative leaders of my home state no longer champion the moral agency of caring for the poor, these same leaders can’t even admit the economic self-interest of doing so.

Andrew Boyd, senior research fellow in UNC Greensboro’s Center for Business and Economic Research made the economic self-interest case for the altruistically challenged in an article for the Charlotte Business Journal. He covers a remarkable range of points from the obvious – more jobs – to the lesser known – avoidance of business tax penalties and lower rates of personal bankruptcies.

If none of this moves conservative lawmakers, maybe the latest polls will. Recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that five incumbent Republican Governors who oppose expansion are at serious risk of losing their jobs.
Our own GOP legislators and Governor Pat McCrory had better take note.

Supervillains rarely make it out of the legislative script, politically alive.

-Marena Groll

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