FAILURE TO EXPAND MEDICAID DOESN’T JUST AFFECT THOSE WHO NEED IT
By Liz Gunn || November is National Prematurity Awareness month. First up, the good news. According to the March of Dimes, premature birth rates dropped to 11.4 percent last year – the lowest rate in nearly 20 years. The bad news for SC? States expanding Medicaid are likely to see the biggest decrease, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute.
Whether it’s expanding Medicaid or the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it only makes sense that giving people more access to insurance is having an impact on this issue as well as others. ACA prevents women from paying more for insurance based solely on gender and outlaws insurance companies from disqualifying people based on pre-existing conditions. In South Carolina, we have a coverage gap that includes about 200,000 people who do not qualify for subsidies or Medicaid under the current law.
For a state that is so deeply “red” that last week’s election was declared a downright bloodbath against Democrats, where is the party of family values now? Where is the party that fights so hard to protect unborn children?
The fiscal concern is there too, of course. Pregnant women, insured or not, will end up at the hospital when it’s time to have their baby. Thanks to Ronald Reagan’s Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, the hospital must deliver these babies. Who do think pays for that? Not the woman who can’t afford health insurance. Certainly not the hospital. Those costs are passed on to the rest of us who are fortunate enough to have health insurance.
By not expanding Medicaid, South Carolina is allowing these 200,000 people to remain uninsured, and to remain a burden to taxpayers when they need medical care. South Carolina is also passing up an estimated 40,000 jobs that the expansion would create.
The South Carolina Hospital Association points out the annual impact expansion would have. Over the course of the next six years, if South Carolina was to expand Medicaid, the state match required would be $442.2 million. Our state’s administrative cost would be $192.6 million. The state tax revenue generated, however, would be $644.1 million. This gives South Carolina $9.3 million in revenue from the Medicaid program.
I am admittedly no math whiz. My eyes glaze over immediately when I hear the words “health insurance”. So if someone can explain to me in real terms, without party talking points, why we aren’t doing this I would greatly appreciate it.
When I was pregnant I saw my doctor all too often. I saw him as much as any woman does during pregnancy, but then more often when complications began. You see, at 26 weeks I began having pre-term labor. I shudder to think what might have happened had I not been insured and empowered to march right into my doctors office at the first sign of a problem.
In a heavily saturated Republican state, with a conservative, Republican Governor – why are we preventing these women and unborn children from getting the access to health care they so desperately need? Where is the outrage for the unborn now? I guess it should come as no surprise that the majority of the states not expanding at this time are at the bottom of the list of the healthiest states in America. (S.C. is sitting pretty at 46.)
Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.