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Gov. Robert Bentley speaks to educators participating in HudsonAlpha's Genetic Resources to Empower Alabama Teachers (GREAT) Conference at the Department of Archives and History in Montgomery on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.
The stingiest governor in America?
Since the Supreme Court ruled that states could refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act—and half the states decided they would do just that—the five million people who would be left out of the insurance expansion have been a hot topic for policy and political wonks. Lawmakers intended for the poorest of the working poor to be covered by expanded Medicaid, and those with higher incomes to get subsidies to help purchase private insurance. Without expansion, the working poor fall into the coverage gap.

The Wall Street Journal apparently just now discovered the issue. In a late-to-the-party but still excellent story, the WSJ profiles some of these people, and discovers just how poor someone has to be to be able to get any kind of health insurance.

In Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley, a physician, said in his annual address last month that Medicaid expansion carried costs he doubted the federal government or his state could afford. Medicaid accounts for more than one-third of Alabama's budget, the state's costliest service after education, and it would have to grow larger to comply with the health-care law.

One of Mr. Bentley's constituents, 27-year-old Tanisha Fields, who is uninsured, arrived at University of Alabama at Birmingham's flagship hospital on a recent evening for treatment after a miscarriage. Hospitals are obligated to treat emergency room patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

Ms. Fields, who has a 4-year-old son, earned about $7,000 last year working at a cleaning service. That is too little to qualify for federal help buying coverage in new health-law marketplaces, and too much for coverage in Alabama's Medicaid program, which has an income ceiling of $2,832 for a family of two, after deductions. If Ms. Fields could buy insurance for $50 a month, she said, "I definitely would."

Yes, a single parent with one kid making $2,833 a year in Alabama, after deductions, is making too much money to get Medicaid coverage for herself. That's something even the WSJ seems horrified by. Welcome to the club.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Feb 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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