NC Senate Leader Phil Berger yesterday called  our health program for low-income people, Medicaid, “a runaway federal entitlement program that is diverting funds away from priorities like education, transportation and our judicial system.” NC’s far right John Locke Foundation calls Medicaid paying for health care “a parasitic disease  to taxpayers and beneficiaries.”
With all the hyperbole, it’s worth noting who the actual low-income people are on NC’s Medicaid program  the right wing hates so much:
One Million Children: 960,827 of the people on NC Medicaid are low-income children ages 0-18.
Half a Million Aged and/or Seriously Disabled: 491,619 of the people on NC Medicaid are either over 65 and poor or have a very serious disability and are poor, or both.
Parents and pregnant women: The smallest and last group of people on NC Medicaid, 360,852 of the total, are extremely poor parents of the poor kids already covered and pregnant women.
We don’t cover adults ages 18-64 on our Medicaid program no matter how poor they are, unless they have a very serious disability.
So these are the parasites, the kids and moms and grandparents who are the cause of this “runaway entitlement.” A million kids in our state who have the gall to think they should be able to see the doctor if they are sick. The aged and disabled who, by the way, reach out their aging hands to demand the vast majority – 63% of Medicaid spending in NC –  just because they need so many health services. The million children on Medicaid are cheap  in comparison, “only” asking for 24% of the spending.
Yes, it’s always easy to speak of a “parasitic disease” or all “those people” who are the supposed cause of cuts to all other areas of the budget. This nasty language doesn’t sound quite so grand when you have to apply it to the real citizens we serve in our Medicaid program. In fact, I would say it is our moral duty to care for the citizens of our state who cannot care for themselves.
Of course, all this bashing is in service of one goal: selling off our award-winning Medicaid program to the private health insurers . And we all know how well private health insurers have done with our current health system. By all means, let’s turn our most vulnerable kids and grandparents and pregnant women over to the insurance industry too. What could go wrong?