Needless Republican cruelty
You might think that in the middle of a pandemic, combined with a collapse of the labor market, that politicians might show a little sympathy for the working class and want them to get health care.
Obviously you don't know Oklahoma Republicans.
Oklahoma officials are pushing forward a Medicaid plan that would charge premiums and impose employment requirements on newly eligible low-income recipients....
The waiver would impose monthly premiums of $10 for individuals and $15 for families, with some exceptions. It would also require participants to work, volunteer or go to school for at least 80 hours monthly.
“Even during this time of immense change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to move forward in our efforts to create a healthier Oklahoma.”
- Gov. Kevin Stitt
The unemployment rate is soaring to Great Depression levels and no one is hiring during a pandemic, so now's a good time to apply a work requirement barrier to health care.
Arkansas and Michigan have had their nearly identical Medicaid work requirements thrown out in federal court.
Fortunately voters on June 30 can chose another Medicaid expansion option, which doesn’t entail work requirements or premiums.
Ironically Oklahoma is not the worst in this regard.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp reopened much of Georgia's economy today.
Kemp is one of a half-dozen southern GOP governors who are rushing to lift coronavirus restrictions faster than the experts say they should. Those states also refused to expand Medicaid, leading to some of the highest uninsured rates in the country.
That means if workers do get sick as a result of being forced to return to work, many won’t have health insurance and could face financial ruin if they go get treatment.
“The venn diagram of bad decisions that the elected leaders in these states are making when it comes to people’s health is nearly perfect,” said Maura Calsyn, the Managing Director for Health Policy at the liberal Center for American Progress.
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee formed a regional pact with Georgia to end coronavirus restrictions.
Oklahoma and Georgia are tied for the second-highest percentage of uninsured people in the country at 14%. Gov. Stitt allowed hair salons, tattoo parlors and dog grooming salons to reopen today.
Republicans don't just oppose poor people getting health care. They also oppose poor people getting food too.
Senate Republicans' negotiations over a $1.6 trillion coronavirus stimulus package have reached an impasse partly due a Republican opposition to a Democratic proposal to provide additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program that provides low-income individuals and families with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card that works like a debit card for purchasing food in local stores.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages the program, said that requests for emergency food benefits went up by $2 billion last month as more than 22 million Americans found themselves unemployed due to the ongoing epidemic. Before the epidemic began, SNAP cost the federal government $4.5 billion to fund each month.
The federal government funded last month's $2 billion increase to SNAP through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 18.