Michael White’s high blood pressure is acting up again.White would very likely be eligible for Medicaid, if Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and the state's legislature weren't allergic to progress, or to Obamacare. But they, along with the Republicans leading Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma are. Which means millions of people like Michael White will suffer.
The 51-year-old casino janitor has recurring seizures and recently awoke in an ambulance after passing out at a bus stop.
“It doesn’t hit me suddenly,” White said. “It creeps up on me. I get this feeling like I’m outside of my own body.”
If White had insurance, he’d be under the care of a primary physician and taking medications regularly. But he can’t afford job-based health insurance on his $8-an-hour wage and he earns too much to qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health plan for poor people and those with disabilities.
These states have something else in common: "By a host of measures–from obesity to infant mortality–all but North Carolina and Georgia are among the unhealthiest in the nation, according to the 2012 edition of America’s Health Rankings." They are among the poorest states, with the highest populations living in poverty and with the state governments most hostile to social services spending. They are the states that Medicaid expansion was designed for, the states that need it the most and the states that could save the most by making sure their large populations of poor people were finally getting health care that was covered by Medicaid instead of uncompensated emergency room care.
The Supreme Court saved them from having to take care of their citizens, though, when it said that states had the option of turning down the Medicaid expansion. Because freedom.