As many as 4.3 million people have gained Medicaid coverage (as of the end of February) because of expansion, and another nearly 1.6 million found out they were eligible under previous Medicaid rules and are now enrolled. That's a total of 5.87 million people covered by Medicaid alone, according to Charles Gaba's ongoing count. Meanwhile, however, Republicans and big-moneyed GOP backers like the Koch brothers are fighting tooth and nail to make sure that not one more person get that coverage.
Paul Waldman at the Plum Line talks about that fight.
Most cruelly, many of the states that have refused to accept the Medicaid expansion are those where Medicaid benefits are most stingy to begin with. Each state sets its own eligibility levels, and not too surprisingly, states run by Republicans tend to set them extremely low. So for instance, if you’re a single parent in Alabama with two kids and you earn a princely $3,221 a year, the state considers you too wealthy to get Medicaid. In Texas, which has more people living without health insurance than any other state, that figure is $3,737. Millions of the working poor could have gotten coverage from Medicaid through the expansion, but their state legislators and governors quite literally believe that it's better for a poor person to have no health coverage at all than to get coverage from the government.
By one analysis, 5.2 million Americans who could have gotten Medicaid if their states had accepted the expansion will remain uninsured. And if you asked those people in a poll whether Obamacare had helped them, they’d quite reasonably say no.
That's just how Republicans want it to be. In fact, they're banking on it for 2014. The more people Obamacare helps, the harder it is for them to run against it. And running against Obamacare is pretty much all they got at this point.
And that is what Democratic campaigns should be focusing on every single day between now and November 4. They need to be reaching out to those people who are being left out to tell them why they aren't being helped by Obamacare. They need to be registering those people to vote, and they need to be getting those people to the polls. Here is a ready-made issue for Democrats to use to turn the Obamacare tables on Republicans, an issue that shows in stark relief just how callow and cruel Republican policies are.