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U.S. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during remarks about leadership elections on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 16, 2010.   REUTERS/Jim Young
He's all heart.
Greg Sargent highlights a stunningly callous remark from Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell about his constituents who are finally getting health insurance for the first time, in large part from Medicaid.
“Well look, if I went out here on the street today [and said], ‘You guys want free health care?’ I expect you’d have a lot of signups,” he said. “People signing up for something that is free” is the only thing about Obamacare in Kentucky that could be considered successful.

Asked more than once what parts of Obamacare, if any, were beneficial to the millions of people in the country without health care, McConnell had only one answer, stating repeatedly: “The law should be repealed.”

Sargent wonders whether Democrats can win running on Medicaid and against attitudes like McConnell's, and the perception that the law mostly benefits poor people, but won't help them.
Dems may well worry that if the Medicaid expansion gets framed solely as expanding a government program for the poor—the handout that McConnell describes—it could put them at risk. Dems will probably emphasize that the expansion is sound budgetary policy, arguing that it makes sense for states to accept huge amounts of federal money.
Medicaid expansion, though, is more than just budgetary policy and it's more than just assistance to the poor. The number of community hospitals closing, particularly in rural areas in red states, shows dramatically that it's not just about the uninsured. The hospitals are closing because they are losing Medicaid funding that Medicaid expansion was supposed to replace. When Republicans refuse to take the Medicaid expansion and don't come up with any replacement funding, hospitals close.

Those hospitals don't just close for poor people. They close for everybody. And health emergencies don't just happen to poor people, they happen to everybody. The lack of health care access to entire communities because of stupid, stubborn Republican opposition to Obamacare is definitely something Democrats can run on.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 01:23 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If Grimes takes him down, (7+ / 0-)

    there should be a new holiday created. Names?

  •  I worry that the Democrats will get blamed for... (9+ / 0-)

    those very hospital closings.

    Republicans have shown a willingness to sabotage government in order to hurt people, if they think the Democrats will take the blame.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 01:36:44 PM PST

  •  Thug want thier voters to PAY MORE AND shut (14+ / 0-)

    down hospitals.  They are turning down free money or money their voters already paid to the federal government and which will go to other stats so Thugs can stick a finger in Obama's eye.  Of course, since the hospitals are still required by federal law to treat the uninsured but now won't get paid for it, that means their insured voters will have t pay even more to cover that or close the hospitals, or both!

    A Thug 2fer!

    All bc the only reason we're not rich is we're Satanic sluts (of both sexes), you sluts you.  We should have choosen richer parents and made our wealth the way Thugs do, inherit it!:)

    •  a 3-fer...then they blame democrats , the main (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Aunt Pat, shoeless, Aquarius40, LMS44

      feature really.
      ...other than the usual which is to keep people so stressed and confused they believe the first smiling shark that swims by..

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 03:55:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I rec'd your comment because it sums up (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder

      my personal experience with the ACA.  I am a proponent of socialized medical care for everyone and I am opposed to insurance based health care at a very fundamental level.  

      That being said, I am more than a little irate over the fact that I am one of the people who gets the shitty end of this stick.  I make too much to qualify for a subsidy, I live in a state that has refused the Medicaid expansion, I have employer sponsored not subsidized coverage that I have to buy at full retail cost, and the major insurance carrier in the state has asked for a massive rate hike.  I'm personally receiving no benefit from this legislation and faced with higher prices because of it.

      If it weren't for the fact that I believe if it were legislatively repealed that it would mean a return to the old abuses at higher prices, you could count me as being opposed to it too.  When it became clear that a public option was not going to be in the cards at this time, they should have put the kibosh on the whole damned thing.  For people like me, it has been nothing but a royal screw job.

      •  You're problem is your job. Really, they get to (0+ / 0-)

        force you to give money to their uncle on the pretense its health insurance, but don't put any of their skin in the game?  Srsly?  Frankly, that sounds like a federal labor law violation if there's no opt-out.  They are forcing you to take a pay cut if you can get it cheaper elsewhere (its also a force contribution to the employer, i.e., kickback, since they undoubtedly get a monetary benefit from bringing all their employees to that co.)

        And its not true you get nothing out of the law: as you said, it reduces cost increases, which mean you will save money in the longer run.

  •  blaming the hospital closings on Democrats (17+ / 0-)

    Don't be surprised to see the Koch money try to convince the red-staters that the closings are due to "Obamacare" and therefore the fault of the Democrats.  

    That would follow the classic right wing playbook:  Break the government to prove that the government doesn't work.

  •  that is a fact (5+ / 0-)

    And republicans are generally not overly concerned with facts.
    They will find a way to blame Obama.
    Dems do need to get out in front of this

  •  Democrats, especially ones running for Governor, (18+ / 0-)

    are already running on expanding Medicaid.  Allyson Schwartz in Pennsylvania has been calling out Tom Corbett's faux Medicaid Expansion plan and wants the real thing.  Vincent Sheheen in South Carolina supports expanding Medicaid in South Carolina as well.  So does Paul Davis in Kansas.  Medicad Expansion is going to be a key campaign issue, especially when it comes to Governor races.

    Funny Stuff at http://www.funnyordie.com/oresmas

    by poopdogcomedy on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 02:53:48 PM PST

  •  I totally read that "of course" as Cenk Uygur (0+ / 0-)
  •  I spent the whole day dealing with Medicaid (7+ / 0-)

    Sore subject.

    When we applied for it as required under our state ACA and were accepted, we were on it, canceled our old insurance, and then we are now dropped for the month of December supposedly due to rule changes from DC but I think it's just the state Medicaid fulfillment contractor in our state.

    So we now have no insurance come one week from today.

    I'm not real  happy.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 03:36:57 PM PST

    •  what happened when you applied? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      J M F, Brooke In Seattle, shoeless

      You're from CO, yes? I applied for Medicaid as part of the Connect for Health set-up and was denied, which I sort of expected - but the reason for the denial was that I had "not applied for medical benefits". This reasoning I had not expected. WTH? What was I applying for, then?

      For what is the crime of robbing a bank, compared to the crime of owning one? BBrecht, Happy End

      by Miss Bianca on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 03:50:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I called the medicaid folks at the state (CO) who (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J M F, JesseCW, divineorder

        actually are a large multinational, who provides government type functions for city, state, and national governments, and they said since our kids were already on their data base we'd not have to supply much documentation, our kids are on Chip+.  Sure enough we got a letter saying we were accepted then cards for medicaid in the mail. Cards were already active!

        Cancelled our high deduct, high premium insurance,,,, and now they tell us we are dropped as of next Monday.

        Very arbitrary.

        Something is not right with Maximus their Medicaid folks.

        I'm not at all sure how or why they make more money. Number of applications? Something is wrong.
        http://www.maximus.com/

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 07:37:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmmm... (0+ / 0-)

          Well, that certainly sucks. I have never heard of Maximus. For my part, I am going to check with the independent insurance broker who helped walk me thru' the process, then go on to the health navigator.  I feel an investigative piece coming on for our regional mag...

          For what is the crime of robbing a bank, compared to the crime of owning one? BBrecht, Happy End

          by Miss Bianca on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 11:51:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  We had a similar probblem in FL (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder

      We signed our special needs daughter up for Florida's full-pay Medicaid program, and they assured us we were covered.  They even cashed our check.  We then canceled our existing COBRA coverage ($1300/month - yikes!) and then they told us that our medicaid coverage wouldn't be effective for another month after all, because the computer systems had to update or cycle or something.  After hours on the phone they decided we were covered, but then they couldn't send us her insurance card, which is about the same thing as not having coverage at all, except we'll be able to file for reimbursement later.  Meanwhile my daughter has $6000 in prescriptions to fill.  Funny, my healthy son got his cards in the mail, no problem.  Florida - What are you going to do?  It's not like the state is really committed to providing Medicaid.

  •  no (5+ / 0-)

    Medicaid is a shitty way to get universal coverage.  

    There's only one way that works out for everyone, and that's a tax-supported free system where everyone gets free care, even rich people.  And if they want something additional, like some sort of fancy cosmetic surgery, or if they want to be in a hospital where the food is made by 5-star french chefs, they can go out and buy that for themselves.  If they want it.  

    A Medicaid expansion is a shitty way to get universal coverage.  It does nothing to bring down costs, increases demand and decreases supply.  It leaves the rich untouched and it hurts the middle class, who have taken a very bad beating in the past three decades.  Don't make it worse.

    The more we screw around with these half-measures, the further away we're going to be from a real universal single-payer system for everyone.

  •  It seems to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    that promoting a lot of stories from the places where hospitals have closed would be useful. How exactly to get them into the old line media is another issue.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:43:14 AM PST

  •  While I always appreciate the info, (10+ / 0-)

    is it necessary to constantly assault my eyes with the worst pictures available of one of the most horrible people on Earth?

    We all KNOW what McConnell (and Boehner and Cantor and all their ilk) look like already.

    If you must use a picture, for heaven's sake: USE A SMALL ONE. I, personally, vote for NO politician pictures. Go back to the generic illustrations, or Donkey Hotey's caricature work, or line drawings like WSJ, or use cat pictures if you must, but these close-up, sweaty, creep shots are a constant source of stomach queasiness for me. I would go so far as to say they are a trigger.

    Please, please stop.

    Thank you.

    Your other readers will also thank you.

    "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

    by Brooke In Seattle on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:49:52 AM PST

  •  a billionaire in V Fib (5+ / 0-)

    is just a meat sack, if they don't get to an ER in an hour.

    you can own western nebraska, but if there isn't a staffer
    ER, even with your own helicopter, you are going to die.

  •  Medicaid expansion creates good jobs. (4+ / 0-)
  •  Medicaid expansion will SAVE money. The original (6+ / 0-)

    version of the Senate bill offered medicaid to everyone up to 166% of FPL.

    That takes millions off people out of the exchange, people who Uncle Sam is effectively picking up the whole tab for.

    Instead of 9k or more in subsidies, we can wind up paying 4k or less to cover millions of the working poor - and we can do it WITHOUT burdening them with onerous co-pays and deductibles.

    "I read New republic and Nation/I've learned to take every view.." P. Ochs

    by JesseCW on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 07:58:20 AM PST

  •  Who should pay, is the question, as many people (4+ / 0-)

    as possible, paying what they can, or a bunch of people getting free care at hosptials that we all end up paying for anyway?

    Society pays no matter what, do we want to pay to prevent or treat? Prevent is much cheaper for all of us.

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:00:08 AM PST

    •  Yeah, and it's not like all of it is really Free (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      merrywidow, divineorder

      A lot of people are getting subsidized insurance through the ACA. This is a far far cry from getting "free care" because beyond that well-patient visit, you're still going to be paying a healthy co-pay for a lot of stuff so I don't see people going to get an MRI just for fun.

      The fact that people getting subsidies are paying into the system at all could actually end up being a net positive. Most people getting a substantial subsidy were probably paying little to nothing into the healthcare pool before and if only a handful of them ended up in the ER, they could rack up a disproportionate tower of fees that would need to be offset by the rest of the public.

      If we get those people to avoid the ER and chip in what they can in exchange for getting more responsible services the "free" care may not be such a fiscally risky idea after all. We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.

      If anyone's still wondering why ER care is so expensive, it's costly in many many ways. Hospitals don't simply charge more for emergency care because it's a great way to rack up money. ERs actually cost a lot to run. There are specifications that ERs have to meet that require them to have equipment and personnel that a well equipped Dr's office wouldn't need and they don't build "trivial care" ER rooms because if the ER is near capacity and you take up a fully equipped ER bay or room with a paper cut, it means they need another fully equipped room in case the next guy they get in truly is critically ill and in need of the full services of an ER.

      Every person that is in the ER unnecessarily is not only increasing the immediate costs of healthcare, but is also bending the long term cost curve upwards by influencing building, equipment, and staffing plans.

      Move those people out of the ER and we may be able to begin "demilitarizing" our ERs and reduce the costs of building and running ERs in the future.

  •  Good post, except (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orlbucfan, Aquarius40, divineorder

    there's nothing "stunning" about McConnell's callousness.  The man despises the poor.  He believes serfs should stay in their place, and die quietly when they're too ill to get well on their own.

    "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

    by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:16:15 AM PST

  •  The Medicaid expansion wont be repealed (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, Willa Rogers, divineorder

    25 states are implementing it, and the rollout of the expansion has gone pretty well, with 400k signing up in just Oct.

    Even if we assume no other state accepts the expansion, that's millions of people who are going to have health insurance by 2016, many in swing states.

    A GOP presidential candidate campaigning on full repeal of Obamacare will be campaigning on taking away that insurance from millions.

  •  Closing rural hospitals, (4+ / 0-)

    as well as many in depressed urban areas,  kills hundreds of high paying jobs.  Doctors, Nurses and various types of medical technicians are frequently among the highest earners in the area they service.

    Even less skilled jobs like nurses aids, orderlies, and other support roles (cooks, laundry workers, security guards) make
    more money then they could from the types of retail jobs that are the only other source of work in depressed areas.

    Because hospitals operate 24-7, they employ more people than most folks realize. They are frequently the largest employer in their area.

    When a hospital closes it affects people from different income groups and closing hospitals are going to increase without their being able to access new Medicaid patients.

    Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

    by OIL GUY on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:19:47 AM PST

  •  If Obamacare is "free" (0+ / 0-)

    then they can't attack a mandate, right?

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:29:48 AM PST

  •  Wacky wingnuts can't accept reality (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aquarius40, divineorder

    I am in Wisconsin and now the website now seems to be working fine. I chose my plan and will soon enroll.

    Yesterday my local newspaper had an article about the disaster that is healthcare.gov. So I posted a comment, relayed my success, and asked the editors if they had checked the site lately. I also pointed out how much better my coverage will be compared to my current policy.

    It wasn't long before the negative responses started. One guy called me an OFA tool, another asked if I was a paid poster, a third refused to believe that the site is now working. They are foaming at the mouth and want it to fail. What a bunch of drama queens.

    •  Best strategy for wingnut commenters (0+ / 0-)

      Respond by mentioning  "Vapor Trails".  They will spend the next few days crying about that. They fall for it every time.

      Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. Theodore Roosevelt

      by Zwoof on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:58:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  medicaid expansion is a great thing to run on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Willa Rogers

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:42:31 AM PST

  •  My free health care has been paid for many times (0+ / 0-)

    over. In my working career, I paid taxes that were multiples of my expected lifetime government-funded medical costs of $220,000. Unlike TeaParty/GOP, I am happy that poor people have the same access as the rich to free government-funded health care.

    Even so, the health status of the poor is worse and they have shorter life expectancy. (It's unclear why but issues like getting time off work, getting child care for infants, and transportation costs to get to medical appointments seem to be relevant.)

    Canadians consume, on average, just over $220,000 in publicly funded health-care services over a lifetime, newly published data show.

    People in the lowest-income group have $237,500 in lifetime health costs, compared with $206,000 for the highest-income group. The wealthy live an average of five years longer than the poor. But the wealthy also tend to be healthier, so their lifetime cost to the health-care system tends to be less.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/...

    BTW, 70% of medical costs are paid by government (wiki says U.S. is 45% to 56.1% government funded).

  •  Republicans Will Speak Moronic Slogans (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    And Democrats will spout doctoral theses in response. Which do you think will be absorbed by the public?

    I really don't need to say more than that but I will. Rather than show off their college degrees, Democrats have to learn how to talk to average people in ways they'll understand. There's a reason that Dan Brown outsells Thomas Pynchon and no amount of looking down your nose will change that fact.

    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    by The Lone Apple on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 08:47:54 AM PST

  •  McConnell scandalized by "free money" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zwoof, divineorder, FindingMyVoice

    Well, that is to say, he's scandalized by free stuff for poor people. Free stuff for his murderous coal mine operating pals is super-dee-duper. Free stuff for his financial industry bankrollers is just fine. Free stuff for his overrich buddies who can't spend what they have now is always the order of the day.

    But "free" stuff for We the People? Get the smelling salts and fluff the cushions on the finest fainting couch! Mitch has the vapors!

  •  how could the Dems lose worrying that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder

    Medicaid would be painted as a government expansion???? Give me a break, all they have to say with a spine, is its either this, or the uninsured will continue to turn up in the country's ER rooms, and we all end up paying for that, right?!

  •  Democratic communication consultants (0+ / 0-)

    ...are the dumbest animals on the planet.

    Medicaid provides a large subsidy to (formerly, because they have to gift or spend down assets) middle class patients at long term care facilities.  Medicaid is a middle class program that does help the poor get primary care and hospitalization -- and keeps those bills from being shifted to the middle class that does have health care insurance in the form of higher prices for services.

    Medicaid expansion expands the Medicaid subsidies up into the middle class incomes because of the way Obamacare defines eligibility in terms of the poverty level.

    Surely some communication consultants for Democrats can get a clue from those facts.  After all at least two or three have picked up on Duncan Black's (Atrios's) idea that expanding Social Security is both winning politics and fiscal sanity.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Nov 26, 2013 at 10:12:56 AM PST

  •  What always upsets me... (0+ / 0-)

    Is that Dems are never smart enough to make obvious arguments or call out Repubs for lying. The easy question to ask if you're running against McChinless is that there's an expansion in medicaid that is covering more people who have never had any sort of insurance at all. If his argument is just "replace it" for no reason other than he wants the President to fail, what's his replacement? Keep hitting him on that question. He'll spend months trying to deflect, talking about "job killers" and "government takeover of healthcare" which both aren't going to work in his state because they've got a state exchange that they gave another name and their Appalachian, sister lovin' residents don't realize is the same thing. Sometime during the primaries he'll have no choice but to come up with a solution which he'll of course get whacked from the Right for coming up with any solution whatsoever and whacked from the left because he kept saying that we should repeal the ACA and after three years of saying that, with his party attempting to repeal it 40+ times in the house, he finally came up with a solution that he won't try to put on the floor.

  •  Why I'm recommending this diary (0+ / 0-)

    I really wish more people made the points that you make about public good. Much the same might be said of grocery stores and food stamps.

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