By Cristen Hemmins, HottyToddy.com blogger
Governor Bryant likes to call himself “pro-life.” In fact, I oftentimes think it’s the most important thing in the world to him: making sure every fetus in born. Let that fetus be delivered, however, and it’s another issue all together.
As a way of showing how much he hates President Obama, Governor Bryant and other Republican legislators have decided to deny healthcare to thousands of Mississippians. During the regular legislative session, our lawmakers did not reauthorize Medicaid funding. Unless a special session is called to discuss this issue before July 1, Mississippi Medicaid will no longer be funded AT ALL. There is a petition online which you can sign, imploring our governor to call the special session.
In the balance are the lives of hundreds of thousands of Mississippians this month, because we are close to not having any Medicaid at all in Mississippi. We are the poorest and the least healthy state in our nation, and we are close to becoming far worse. Governor Bryant is playing political games with our lives.
Fifty-eight percent of Mississippians support Medicaid expansion. Yet our governor is not willing to do what the majority of Mississippians want. There are thousands of Mississippians who have no insurance, and not enough money to pay for their healthcare. These are not the “moochers” my Republican friends like to hate on so hard. People without jobs are on Medicare. People who use Medicaid are working Mississippians, or Mississippians who have pre-existing conditions which insurance will not cover, or disabled children.
Pregnant unwed mothers receive Medicaid for prenatal care. They get it as soon as they get pregnant and they continue to get it until the baby is one year old, covering both the mother and the child. Since teenage pregnancy is such an epidemic in our state, it sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? You can’t really call yourself “pro-life,” and then take away prenatal care from young mothers.
My friend posted on Facebook this morning, “Who is on Medicaid? My beautiful and amazing niece, who was born with a cleft palate. If my sister put every dollar of her income toward medical bills, she would have to work 333 years to pay for Grace’s costs to date. The costs of a major birth defect, or a lengthy NICU stay, or a serious health complication, are literally un-payable for people who don’t have health insurance, including people like my sister whose jobs don’t offer it.”
This is what her sister wrote about it: “Last month, my child got her 9th set of ear tubes. It took five minutes to insert two miniscule pieces of plastic in her ears and cost $10,000. Yes, you heard right: TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. No private insurance will touch her with a ten foot pole, so she is on Medicaid. Not because we’re poor, not because I’m lazy, but simply because she was born that way. You may look down on people like me ‘on government assistance’ but ask yourself what YOU would do if you didn’t have an extra $90,000 just lying around to keep your kid from going deaf.”
Beyond people who need healthcare, this issue will affect the thousands of Mississippians who work in the healthcare industry. If we expand Medicaid, adding those hundreds of thousands of new people who need care to the industry will create 9,000 new healthcare-related jobs. This industry is one of our biggest in Mississippi, and if we reject the billions of dollars the federal government is offering us to cover healthcare for our working uninsured, they will give that money to another state. One that almost certainly does not need it as badly as we do. If our politicians refuse Medicaid expansion, there will be fewer jobs in the healthcare industry in our state. Doctors will leave. Hospitals will close.
Another friend of mine wrote a scorchingly hilarious column this morning, “Medicaid: a plea to rich people.” In it, she points out that not funding Medicaid will not only affect the poor — it will affect the rich. Less doctors, less options for people who can afford to pay for their own insurance. “Listen, fellow Fidelity and Ameritrade members, if our healthcare providers leave the state, our healthcare will decline, which means EVERYTHING will decline. Mississippi has a low cost of living (making your six figures much more cushy) because the industries that employ the majority of our state don’t have to pay their workers much or give them good benefits. That leaves three options: a) they only employ super healthy people who don’t need good insurance, b) they are forced to increase their costs to pay their employees more and give them better benefits, or c) their employees supplement with Medicaid. Does your employer employ *whisper* lower classes? Which option do you think they’d want? Which option do you think would keep them here? Which option do you think would bring MORE industry here?”
The fact is that 50.2 percent of Mississippi’s children are enrolled in Medicaid. Sixty one percent of those children live in households where at least one parent works. More than half of the children in our state will lose their access to healthcare if this problem is not fixed. Governor Bryant, tell me again how much you love children and babies?
It’s ridiculous that we are even having this fight — fighting to get our governor and our legislators to accept funding from the federal government which will make Mississippians healthier, happier, and more productive. Funding which will also bring much-needed new jobs and new industry to our state. But here we are. And now’s the time to give Governor Bryant a call, and let him know how important this is.
P.O. Box 139, Jackson, MS 39205
@PhilBryantMS on twitter
Cristen Hemmins got completely immersed in the battle to defeat Initiative 26 in MS (The Personhood Initiative) in 2011, and was interviewed live on The Rachel Maddow Show, MPB, BBC radio, and other media outlets in print and television. Feeling completely fed up with not being represented in Mississippi state government, she’s now Vice-Chair of her county Democratic party, is on the State Democratic Executive Committee, and was a delegate to the 2012 DNC.
This native Mississippian is self-employed and sells ads for a few different print publications in her spare seconds of not being a political activist. Her kids are 6, 8, and 10, and she is happily married to an Englishman. They all live in an old farmhouse on the edge of Oxford and enjoy their flowers, chickens, veggies, cats, a bunny, a dog, and a guinea pig. Email Cristen at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter: @CristenHemmins.