Americans for Prosperity is beside itself with joy after the Senate Health & Welfare Committee voted Wednesday to deny Louisiana voters the opportunity to decide whether Louisiana should accept billions of dollars in federal money — and an estimated 15,000 new health care jobs and billions in related economic activity — to expand Medicaid. The 6-2 vote, which had it gone another way wouldn’t have expanded Medicaid but rather simply let voters decide so, yes, it would have expanded Medicaid if polls showing solid public support for expansion have been accurate — effectively killed the prospect of some 240,000 low-income state residents obtaining affordable health insurance.
Consequently, many of those in the so-called Jindal Gap — too poor to afford decent health insurance yet earning too much to qualify for Obamacare subsidies — will continue using hospital emergency rooms for routine health care at a very affordable rate — free — while the cost is passed on to the rest of us with health insurance. Because Americans for Prosperity is a bunch of “grassroots activists” who won the day with their earthy, yeoman ideals.
We know Americans for Prosperity — a group founded and funded largely by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who inherited a fortune from their daddy and who more or less invented the Tea Party movement in 2009 — is “grassroots” because AFP uses the term four times in a press release hailing the Senate committee vote. Never mind that the “grassroots activists” AFP lauds are overwhelmingly affluent, middle-aged white folks with nary an economic worry save for keeping their low taxes low. OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
The Louisiana Democratic Party, treading helplessly yet again in the red tide that is drowning our fair state, had a different take on the Senate committee’s vote: “When they won’t even support allowing a vote of the people, you have to wonder just why they’re so afraid of democracy,” says party Chair Karen Carter Peterson. “The senators today heard testimony about several other states that are experimenting with creative ways to expand access to private insurance using the federal Medicaid expansion dollars. These sorts of bipartisan, compromise proposals would seem to be just what the doctor ordered for Louisiana, but the Jindal administration hasn’t even looked into them. Jindal and groups like AFP are content to sit by and score political points as working Louisianians struggle, suffer and die for lack of health coverage.”
Added La. Dem Executive Director Stephen Handwerk: “When the moral and fiscal arguments fail, there is only one argument left to make — the political one. To every senator and representative that stands in the way of expanding access to health care for those working Louisianians who are in the Jindal gap, I say this — when you abandon the people of Louisiana, do not be surprised if they abandon you.”