No Breaks for America’s Poorest

Skeptics of the new healthcare law have been prophesying doomsday and the rise of socialism. The reality is that state-level healthcare policies will come far from providing universal coverage – many will actually leave out our nation’s poorest citizens.

Medicaid expansion

Image from The Advisory Board Company at http://www.advisory.com/Daily-Briefing/2012/11/09/MedicaidMap

This omission was not an original component of the healthcare law, but rather came last year after the Supreme Court ruled that Medicaid expansion was a state-level choice. In the best case scenario, states would have seized this opportunity to leverage the Affordable Care Act and expand coverage to all of their citizens. Unfortunately, half of the states in the country – where more than half of all Americans without health insurance live – have refused to expand Medicaid.

This sets up a scenario where middle and lower-middle class Americans can benefit from the new healthcare law, but the poorest of the poor – A.K.A. the ones who really need health care coverage – will be excluded. In Louisiana, for example, if a full-time breadwinner in a family of four earns $14 an hour, they will qualify for health insurance subsidies. However, if the same breadwinner earns $10 an hour, they are too poor to qualify for health insurance assistance.

Faced with a situation where Americans with the lowest income levels will not benefit from the new healthcare law, it is time to re-examine state-level programs and policies. Health disparities will only continue to be perpetuated as the divide between middle and low-income Americans grows wider; reinforcing inequities that will impact the nation’s financial and social resources.

Find out where your state stands on Medicaid expansion and contact your elected officials to reinforce programs and policies that will bolster the health of all Americans.

The following two tabs change content below.
I have extensive experience coordinating communications and outreach initiatives focused on health and social issues. In my current position as Project Specialist, I provide communications technical assistance to regional and federal efforts within the National Partnership for Action initiative, with support from the Office of Minority Health. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked on health and social affairs projects in the Federated States of Micronesia. Read more.