Poor Minorities Disproportionately Shut Out from Obamacare Options

Poor Minorities Disproportionately Shut Out from Obamacare Options

A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation asserts that almost five million poor, uninsured adults will get no subsidized coverage options once Obamacare hits in 2014.

Roughly 75% of those adults live in the South and at least 50% are non-white.

However, the report has an agenda that goes beyond indicting Obamacare — the authors imply that states refusing to expand their Medicaid coverage are to blame for the problem. Its authors write, “Given their high uninsured rates and low incomes, people of color will be disproportionately impacted by this coverage gap, particularly poor uninsured black adults residing in the Southern region of the country where most states are not moving forward with the expansion.”

One example — South Carolina, which is not expanding Medicaid.

In South Carolina, 104,000 white adults and 83,000 black adults who are poor won’t qualify for Medicaid or a subsidy for their health insurance. Shelli Quenga, director of programs for the nonprofit Palmetto Project, complained, “Those are our lowest income folks. I do have to tell people you’re too poor for coverage in our state. That’s a very hard conversation to have. There’s nothing for them. You have to say it a couple of times because it doesn’t make sense to people. How is it the poorest of the poor — we leave them out? It doesn’t make sense.”

This picture fits with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s estimate that of the 750,000 citizens of the state without health insurance, only 336,000 people will qualify for subsidies from the federal government unless Medicaid is expanded.

South Carolina Medicaid Director Tony Keck, who opposes expanding Medicaid eligibility, was furious with the implicit attack on the state’s determination to rein in Medicaid costs, saying of the foundation’s report, “They are so aligned with the Obama administration, very little of their work means anything to anybody anymore. Health is much more complicated than health insurance.”

The Democrats are already planning on using GOP governors’ refusal to back Medicaid expansion against them. They plan to attack GOP governors such as Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, Paul LePage of Maine, and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania. Danny Kanner, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors Association, told the Washington Post, “Walker, Scott, LePage, and Corbett have refused to lift a finger to bring their taxpayers’ money home to create jobs and expand health care access. It’s the kind of sabotage one might expect from Tea Party Republicans in Congress, but voters will punish those governors for it.”