The people of Maine have spoken. Much to our governor’s displeasure, we approved Medicaid expansion. Now our president is facilitating discriminatory policies pertaining to Medicaid eligibility and LePage is excitedly refueling the myth that the uninsured are largely “able-bodied” folks who choose not to seek employment.
I marvel anew at that term, Governor. As an amputee, am I able bodied? I happen to maintain multiple jobs, volunteer commitments, and I own a couple businesses, but I struggle with your assumed right to determine my ability to work according to my physicality.
Let’s cut to the chase: No right-thinking person believes that a person who is able to work ought not to be working to support themselves and to meet the needs of their family. I’m as liberal as they come and I am a proponent not only of employment, but of hard work.
The problem is not folks not wanting to work:
According to latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the State of Maine, the rate of uninsured Mainers Is about 2.5 times greater than the number of unemployed. A lot of Mainers who work full time cannot afford health insurance and many would qualify for Maine Care.
Many, many more folks are stuck in the limbo of being physically and/or psychiatrically incapable of working and are stuck in the lengthy and cumbersome process of seeking Social Security Disability status. If you’re not familiar with the living hell that this process represents for most, talk with any U.S. senator’s office. Support with that progression is one of the most frequent requests they receive.
Here’s the mind-bogglingly obvious thing that keeps getting swept under the rug: Maine remains in the midst of an opiate epidemic. Expanding Medicaid in our state opens doors to about 80,000 folks to receive medical treatment. Yet a person who is in active addiction, according to LePage, is in fact an “able-bodied person” who should hold employment before being eligible for Medicaid.
That is exactly backwards thinking.
Helping folks attain recovery from addiction is proven to be cost effective at both the state and federal levels. There is no debate about that. We don’t get to decide who is worthy of Medicaid and who is not based on their medical condition. Only medically trained folks contracted by the state can do so. To apply blanket approaches in policy that restrict access to health care will cost Maine a lot of lives.
In LePage’s Social Darwinism administration, restricting access to Narcan and now Medicaid fly in the face of supporting addiction recovery in our state.