GOP governor: Medicaid doesn’t work because there are still sick people


Gov. Matt Bevin tied his tongue in knots trying to explain why cutting Medicaid is actually a positive thing.

Last week, with the blessing of the Trump administration, Kentucky became the first state to require some people to work to be eligible for Medicaid.

The plan makes no sense, because being healthy promotes labor participation, and because most people on Medicaid are already either working or not able to work.

Kentucky is, in effect, forcing its poorest residents to jump through cruel bureaucratic hoops to prove they "deserve" health care.

But in an interview with MSNBC's Ali Velshi, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin, offered an appallingly ignorant take on why his state is doing this.

In Bevin's view, kicking people off Medicaid is a good thing.

"The intent is not to save money," he declared. "The intent is to get people engaged in their own health outcome, because what we’ve seen for 50-some-odd years of these programs, Medicaid, we are not helping people’s health become better. We’re not. Especially for those who are able-bodied."

Bevin is flatly wrong that Medicaid does not improve health outcomes for the poor, as studies prove that it does. And he failed to explain how forcing the very small percentage of able-bodied Medicaid patients without a job to work will in and of itself magically make them healthier.

Bevin then went even further off the rails. "In Kentucky, we have more people than ever on Medicaid and we are — we are increasing in leading the nation in things like lung cancer and things like premature deaths and things like diabetes and hypertension and cardiovascular disease and pick the category."

Correlation is not causation. Saying that more Kentuckians seeking health care has caused more people to get sick is like saying football fans celebrating in the street causes their team to win the Super Bowl.

But arguments like Bevin’s could be important when patient advocates sue in court to stop the plan. Medicaid waivers can only be granted for changes to the program that further the intent of improving national health. So the Trump administration, and the states that seek to gut Medicaid, will all use variants of the argument that fewer people with insurance somehow means they are healthier.

Republicans have developed a diabolical brand of doublespeak on eliminating health insurance for the poor — and it must be countered head-on with the truth.