Tea Party plays defense after rejecting $6 billion in federal funds

Keith Regier is out of touch.

Keith Regier

by Cowgirl

State legislator Keith Regier, who once compared women to pregnant cattle and a fetus to an unfinished barn, has written an editorial in the Flathead Beacon that attempts to defend his party’s destruction of Access Health Montana, Bullock’s Medicaid expansion proposal to bring health care to 70,000 working poor Montanans which never made it out of the legislature.

Regier makes the Tea Party’s stock argument, which can be easily debunked.

He makes the claim that Medicaid will “worsen health outcomes” for the Montana poor.  How? He points to supposed studies that show that Medicaid patients are more likely to have surgical complications, and are statistically more likely to die, than the population as a whole.  Essentially, he is arguing that Medicaid makes you sick.

This conflates cause with correlation.  Medicaid clients are indeed less healthy than the greater population, that is true.  But it’s not that Medicaid makes you sick or that the care is somehow worse –its delivered by the same hospitals and doctors by the same standards.  It’s because of the profile of the average Medicaid enrollee.   They have likely come to the Medicaid program they are so sick that they have spent down their savings on their illness and are now eligible; or because they have been rejected by private insurance companies due to expensive pre-existing health conditions; or because they have lacked healthcare for many years until their condition has become difficult to treat.  Also, the current Medicaid population is heavy on seniors, who have more health problems than the population on the whole.

In other words, Medicaid is a repository for many of the most ill and least treated citizens.

So it is true that Medicaid enrollees are among the least healthy.  It is not caused by their enrolling in Medicaid.  This is not a difficult thing to understand, even if Regier and his Tea Party have trouble understanding it.

There are some legislators who deserve mention for having tried their best. Democrats who worked hard to bring in the new Medicaid reforms, Dave Wanzenried and Christine Kauffman and Chuck Hunter, and even some Repubs like Ed Buttrey and Alan Olson,  deserve some credit for trying to get it done.  And many executive branch employees in the governor’s office and the health and human services department–and of course the citizens’ groups and their members who did the most work.

They all understood, if nothing else, that you should try to find room for $6 billion dollars for healthcare when the federal government offers it.

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29 Comments on "Tea Party plays defense after rejecting $6 billion in federal funds"

  1. test

    • This has been a standard rant of Rush Limbaugh for the past couple of weeks. I’m guessing Regier scribbled down as much Rush as he could and then submitted it to the local paper. I think its worth sharing some of Rush’s other “wisdom” on the health care front so that we may evaluate this in its proper context (nonsense.)

      “Exercise freaks … are the ones putting stress on the health care system.” ~Rush Limbaugh, accusing people who exercise of being the reason why health care costs are so high, June 12, 200

      “Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult’s taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards…There’s going to be a retard summit at the White House.” –Rush Limbaugh, on his Feb. 3, 2010 radio show, referring to Chief of Staff Rham Emanuel’s remark calling the idea of liberal groups running health care-related ads against Democratic lawmakers “f**king retarded”. Sarah Palin called on Emanuel to resign over the comment.

      “I’ve been racking my brain. I’ve been trying to figure out how Bob Dole’s luggage got on my airplane…I told the doctor, I said, ‘Look, I’m worried about the next election.’ … A misunderstanding.” –Rush Limbaugh, after he was detained by custom officials for possessing Viagra with a prescription made out in someone else’s name

      “Limbaugh shot down speculation that he is again taking painkillers amid news reports that he told paramedics when they arrived Wednesday at his hotel room that he was on medication for back pain.

      Asked if he was taking painkillers, he flatly said “No,” and added that he was taking Prednisone, a type of steroid used to treat inflammatory diseases.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/31101.html

  2. Baggers and intelligence are not typically used in the same sentence–unless of course one is discussing their antipathy to it. Nor for that matter are they known for their affinity to science, nor for understanding economics. Nor for that matter for their moral values.

  3. Cowgirl I believe a comment of mine is stuck in the cue.

  4. What a coincidence. The New York Times ran an article today discussing some of the benefits of Medicaid coverage.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/business/study-finds-health-care-use-rises-with-expanded-medicaid.html?ref=health

  5. EXCELLENT editorial. Bullock is hinting at calling a “Special Session” I hope he kicks Jason Priest’s ASS for me!

  6. Maybe these ‘teabagger’ legislators would donate their GENEROUS
    state healthcare policy to help those who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion? It’s typical ‘dog eat dog’ Ayn Rand rhetoric, and why does fundamentalist pro-life embrace Rand, who suppored abortion?

  7. I’d like to see Governor Bullock convene a speical session to help 70,000 Montanans, hin families desperate for healthcare and without action, there will surely be deaths because of preventative care and other procedures. The governor’s plan had ‘failsafe’ provisions in case of federal funds not be available later. Even for one year, the legislature could have SAVED liives, not treat Montanans as pawns in the ‘teabag’ games. Thanks indeed to Senator Buttrey and his reaonable proposal. Good healthcare and preventative medicine SAVES lives and $$$$$$ GOP!!!!

  8. Jennifer Davies | May 2, 2013 3:15 AM at 3:15 AM |

    I am all for the Medicaid expansion- I just wonder what would be different at a special session than the regular one. I worry that we’d get the same exact outcome. I believe this is now in the hands of the people, not the governor–we need a ballot initiative. Done by the people, this thing could be done right. What if the Governor caves to the demands of moron legislators again? We don’t need that with a ballot measure.

  9. Carolyn Sweeney | May 2, 2013 6:52 AM at 6:52 AM |

    Regier says Republicans proposed an alternative that would have provided health care for people. This was Liz Bangerter’s original bill, House Bill 623. Let Republicans back an approach they’ve philosophically endorsed before, Bangerter thought, by providing $1000 one-time-only for one-year-only vouchers to help people purchase private health insurance. This way, thought Bangerter and crew, we will show that the GOP can solve a problem that haunts (and often bankrupts) Montanans. (Never mind that an average health care plan for one person costs $9000 every year.)

    That was the idea. Then — boom! — conservatives revolted. They told themselves that voting for ANY measure would be tantamount to supporting Obamacare on their coveted Koopman Konservative score card. Priest and Wittich threatened and then sent attack mailers against anyone in the GOP who voted yes.

    But here’s the bigger point. It’s not as if Bangerter was foisting some sweeping plan on her colleagues to restore jobs upward mobility, equal opportunity and economic security in the Montana. (Republican politicians won’t go near ideas truly aimed at these goals.) Even Republicans who pretended to be game for working with “the other side” (aka out to save the party from embarrassment and decline) are barely inching –barely even looking in this direction.

    No, in asking her colleagues to do this small (ridiculous) thing for the sickest of the sick, Bangerter was taking a parody of a baby step. Bangerter’s overall agenda was already minimal. It was also probably illegal and massively expensive (it would have made the thousand dollar grants income, taxed people on them, but never gave them the money)–but she didn’t care. She meant symbolically to suggest that the GOP “cared” and could “solve a problem.”

    But this little spec of a (stupid) idea proved to be too much for today’s House Republicans and the political cabal that sustains it. And if that’s the case, how can Republicans ever get remotely serious about any concerns of the state’s middle class: health care costs, retirement security, college access and jobs? They can’t.

  10. Word I read down here was that it was a “mistake” vote by a Democrat that killed the bill. Funny how those mistakes happen at critical times. I wish that some time some Democrat would make a mistake and vote against the wars and austerity that your party currently sponsors.

    Obama is now “thinking” about closing Gitmo once more, and he will continue to do that until he stops, when the hunger strikes are off the radar. Bullock is “thinking” about a special session. Your party is not a vehicle for achieving progressive goals. Too many mistakes. Too much thinking. No action.

  11. There is a silver lining to Bullock’s health policy, which is that he didn’t reappoint Anna Whiting Sorrell. Ever since she departed this building, its been like a great fog is lifted. Eight years of darkness. Totally incompetent. She spent eight years promoting herself, a drama queen who acted like she was US secretary of state. Everybody’s job was to contribute to this effort, rather than do work of an agency. The worst manager I’ve ever seen. Moral has been improving since here leaving. But the destruction she visited upon this place will take a long while to be repaired. I would not want to be at Indian Health Service right now.

  12. Here’s the study that refutes Regier’s allegation that Medicaid is harmful to poor people:

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1202099

  13. Medicaid isn’t an insurance program! It pays the medical bills of aged, blind, and disabled seniors. The same doctors care for Medicaid patients and for everyone else. Regier is so uninformed its scary.

    • Too many ‘teabaggers’ forget to reflect that ‘there by the Grace of God go all of us’ and anybody could end up like Job, everything taken away
      in a flash’ and then we’d see if he’d apply for Medicaid or told to buzz off by his Ayn Rand friends.

  14. I’d like to urge everyone who supports expanding Medicaid to focus on the needs of the people who expanded Medicaid would help, and on the harms they will suffer if they are denied the benefits of the program. Above all, this is a moral issue and must be prosecuted as such. People have a right to good health care, and those who get in the way violate human rights.

    • I totally agree, James. And I want to thank you for coming up with a sentence demonstrating the importance of distinguishing between “who” and “whom.” I’m sure it’s an error you seldom make since you’re a good writer.

      • An error? Me? I can always find a grammatical authority to bless my sentences. It’s sort of like religion and the Good Books. But in this case, you’ve got me dead to rights. Good job of blue-penciling.

    • Eleven years without medical insurance opened my eyes

  15. Don’t you just hate this I do. There is a lot of people day in and out I could disagree with, But if they need help, and I was the only person in the room who could help them… damn it I am gonna do it.

    Attention GOP What your doing is not Humanity! Chirst raised up people hope, he gave comfort he healed the sick.

    When does a partisanship trump a persons life? It doesn’t!

    What these republicans are doing is no different than the burning down of a church filled with women and children… except instead of using a torch, they are doing it with indifference, and racial hate of a black president.

    These guys might as well be wearing sheets for all the denial of life giving health care– they wish on sick men, women, children and elders.

    Poor is the new black! Helping folks the new sin. Pretty Pathetic if you ask me!

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