I have wonderful news! The voters of Pennsylvania and Alaska have saved the lives of over a 1000 people this year!* "How did they do that?" you may ask. In the last election cycle, voters used the awesome power of the ballot box to get rid of Medicaid obstructionists Tom Corbett (R-PA) and Sean Parnell (R-AK), and thus saving lives and offering hope to the uninsured. We (the people) did that.
Both the new Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania and the Independent Governor of Alaska have pledged their enthusiastic support for the Medicaid Expansion program. Lives will be saved. Some people will be spared unnecessary suffering. Yep, elections matter, and the lives of poor people should also matter.
Dina Nelson needed a liver transplant but couldn't afford one because she was uninsured. She died at age 41. Back in 2014 her grieving fiancé confronted the ex-governor of Pennsylvania and had this to say:
“If Dina had access to good, preventative healthcare services when she needed it, her life would have been saved,” Rosenzweig told the Sun Gazette. “Gov. Corbett needs to hear more stories like Dina’s about the real impact of his decision to delay Medicaid expansion. How many lives lost are enough?”
I have some sad news, some 15,000 Americans will die
because the door to health care has been slammed shut in their faces. For the most unconscionable of reasons, twenty-two GOP governors have opted out of the Medicaid Expansion Program. Their need to show their disdain for the current occupant of the White House was deemed of far greater importance than their duty to act in the best interest of their citizens.
In times of uncertainty and turmoil in the past, Americans have fought back in four principal ways: at the ballot box, by long-term populist appeals, with protests, and through legal action.
We have seen the difference the ballot box makes for people living in Pennsylvania and Alaska. In this week while we still commemorate the march on Selma, we are reminded of the power of protests. Now let's see what we can do with some legal action of our own.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to [Government] records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions.
What do we hope to achieve with this initiative?
It would be lovely if Republican governors would suddenly discover some honor, some empathy, some heart and decide to do the right thing by their constituents; but we all know that is not gonna happen. We'll settle for embarrassing the heck outta them...as means to an end.
As one member of our group puts it:
The way we see it, this is a win-win. If the governor refuses to comply, it's a story. Why are you not tracking the number of people you've killed? If they comply, it's a story. That story, whichever it turns out to be, will be sent to every major newspaper in that state and Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton and the AP and Al Jazeera.
This doesn't work without volunteers.
We have been promoting this initiative for 10 weeks (7 really, as we were on vacation for 3 weeks), and so far we have had 10 volunteers. Ten wonderful Kossacks have stepped up to join this fight for those who need a helping hand. Thank you! But we need more people to volunteer.
If you live in any of the following nine states, we need your help: Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
If you live in any of the states that have refused the Medicaid Expansion Program, we need your help.
Remember, the goal is to get the Governors to tell us why they have refused the Medicaid Expansion Program, and how that act impacts the lives of citizens of their states.
Here is what we are demanding in our FOIA requests:
(1) Any and all documents used by the Office of the Governor of the State of YOUR STATE HERE in determining whether or not to Expand Medicaid.
(2) Any and all documents with which the Office of the Governor of the State of YOUR STATE HERE uses to track the number of deaths caused, or potentially caused, by the refusal to Expand Medicaid.
(3) Any and all documents with which the YOUR STATE HERE Department of Health uses to track the number of deaths caused, or potentially caused, by the refusal to Expand Medicaid.
(4) Any and all documents with which any State Governmental Agency in the State of YOUR STATE HERE uses to track the number of deaths caused, or potentially caused, by the refusal to Expand Medicaid.
(5) Any and all documents maintained by the YOUR STATE HERE State Government providing the number of uninsured emergency room and/or hospital and/or health clinic visits in YOUR STATE HERE during the last fiscal year.
If you live in a blue state but would still like to show your support for this initiative, you could offer to pay the cost of filing for those in red states who need the help.
* Opting Out Of Medicaid Expansion: The Health And Financial Impacts by Sam Dickman, David Himmelstein, Danny McCormick, and Steffie Woolhandler on January 30, 2014, at the Health Affairs Blog.