July 13, 2020

The politics of health care in a pandemic

In a recent post about health care, I suggested that Oklahoma's ballot measure on Medicaid expansion would be one to watch. Well, sure enough, voters in that heavily Republican state approved the measure by a little over 50 percent. Considering the dark money that went into opposing it, I'd call that a landslide. Dollars seem to count more than votes most days.

Interestingly, Oklahoma was the first state to expand Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it may not be the last. Missouri is scheduled to vote on the measure August 4. And so far, expansion has passed in every state where it was put on the ballot.

As I've argued many times before, it's good news any time a state takes advantage of this best provision of the Affordable Care Act. First, it improves and saves lives. Second, it creates jobs and generates a lot of economic activity. Third, it helps more people stay in the workforce. Fourth, each expansion makes it a bit harder to get rid of the whole thing.

Back to Oklahoma. This is also the state that took up the Trump administration's horrible idea of accepting a cap on Medicaid spending. Looks like that ain't gonna happen.

This article from Politico argues that the pandemic has upended the Trump/Republican dream of rolling back health care. I don't know if that's true, since the US Supreme Court could still do a lot of damage.

Still, I think we can agree that the optics, in the parlance of our time, of taking health care away from people or keeping them from getting it to start with just don't look that good. In an election year.

We'll see. But this is another reminder that all news isn't bad.