Political pettiness invariably comes at a high price

 Stanley Hupfeld, The Daily Record Newswire

Quick! What president’s picture is on the $100 bill? First, it’s a trick question. The answer is Ben Franklin, who was not a president. When Franklin died in 1790 he was arguably the most famous American worldwide. His inventions, writings, and work negotiating with France and Belgium to secure money and aid during the Revolutionary War had a great deal to do with our ultimate victory. He was unquestionably one of our greatest Founding Fathers.

The U.S. Senate refused to pass a resolution commemorating his service to our country. The reason? Franklin’s passionate anti-slavery position angered many Southern senators. In retrospect, it seems petty that the placations of a few senators prohibited this country from recognizing at that time one of its greatest Americans. Political pettiness has existed from the dawn of this country.

One of the pillars of the Affordable Care Act was the expansion in each state of its Medicaid program. The ACA originally mandated those states that failed to expand Medicaid could stand to lose all their Medicaid funding. This potentially damaging mandate was overturned by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. As a result, two dozen states have refused to expand the number of people covered by Medicaid. Expanding Medicaid was a centerpiece in an intricate web spun by the ACA to ensure all Americans had some form of health care coverage.

It’s interesting in that for the most part these 24 states have generally poorer health statistics than the 36 that accepted the expansion. In other words, states that declined to cover more of their citizens generally have a population in greater need of the coverage.

We all sort of get it. These states are red states with conservative governors and legislators. Anything having to do with the current administration or its policies is automatically rejected. The problem is that even though politicians in these states may distrust and dislike the president, the poor simply don’t go away. The states that opted out of Medicaid are essentially using taxes generated by their citizens to fund health care in other states, not only disadvantaging the poor but also harming the providers of health care services in their own state.

Sometimes political pettiness comes at a high price.


Stanley Hupfeld’s book, “Political Malpractice – How the Politicians Made a Mess of Health Reform,” is available at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61862-292-1 and in bookstores.