May 272013

An Open Letter to
Senator Jack Donahue (R-Mandeville),
Representative Timothy Burns (R-Mandeville),
Representative Gregory Cromer (R-Slidell),
Representative Paul Hollis (R-Covington),
Representative J. Kevin Pearson (R-Slidell),
Representative John Schroder (R-Covington), and
Representative Scott Simon (R-Abita Springs)

Your votes on the Medicaid Expansion bills this legislative session have been noted. All of you sat through hearing after hearing yet failed to HEAR the impassioned pleas of so many experts and so many concerned citizens.  Instead you stood lock step with the Governor and supported his irrational and insane decision to DENY the citizens of this state health insurance.

Let’s review.  Who are we talking about when we talk about Medicaid Expansion? We’re talking about the folks that work at fast food restaurants, nursing homes, drug stores, retail stores, and hair salons. These are not “unemployed” folks putting a hand out for more government assistance.  They pay taxes and need their government’s help, not scorn or disregard.

These are people that, for whatever reason, cannot qualify for a job that pays benefits. So instead they cobble together 1-2 or more part-time jobs just to make enough money to feed and clothe themselves and their families.  There’s never anything left over for insurance.  So instead when they get sick or become injured, they are forced to visit the local emergency room.

They’re also the elderly that aren’t yet age-eligible for Medicare. Typically they are “retired” from a minimum wage job and have no retirement package or they were let go when someone decided they were too “old” for the job. They too work at fast food restaurants, nursing homes, etc.

And then there are the folks that have disabilities or illnesses that preclude them from being able to hold down the kind of job that pays benefits.  Or possibly over time their health issues became too much for their employers and they were let go too.  Now like the other groups listed above, they’re serving you Big Macs or cleaning your toilets.

So while you’re relaxing after the legislative session and feeling pretty proud of how you upheld Gov. Jindal’s vision, think about those people.  At least one of you has said “We can’t stall Medicaid Expansion forever, it’s going to happen, just not this year…” Think about what that means in context with what you have done.  You have denied the WORKING poor of Louisiana another year at least of coverage.  We will never get that FREE year back.  You’ve done this to look good in the eyes of Bobby Jindal, a man that would without a second thought jeopardize the state of Louisiana and its citizens for a seat on Air Force One.

If this is not the case, how could you not be convinced by the expert testimony you heard from Former DHH Secretaries Hood and Cerise and the Louisiana Budget Project.  Why were you not swayed by the fact that other US Governors – Republicans that typically reject every word from President Obama’s mouth and despise the Affordable Care Act – realized the benefit Medicaid Expansion offers not only to the working poor, elderly and disabled among their citizenry, but also the BENEFITS to small businesses in their states.

Why were you not persuaded by the passionate pleas from the Catholic Bishops Association which highlighted that this was an issue about human dignity and quoted Pope Francis saying, “Not to share one’s goods with the poor is to rob them.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ pleas also fell on deaf ears.  With all the recent hospital closings and more planned, your decisions have effectively shut the door on any real assistance for the working poor, elderly, and disabled folks that need mental health services.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society’s made the case over and over about how co-payments for people with MS have become insurmountable.  Medicaid Expansion would have resolved that for them. But you chose to ignore them.

The Louisiana Disabilities Advocate said Medicaid Expansion would insure 60,000 disabled people in Louisiana. You have disabled constituents, really you do.

AARP testified on behalf of the elderly that are not yet eligible for Medicare.  Many of these people are living day to day hoping against hope that they don’t get sick until the magic age of 65 when the government will finally cover them.

And finally, did you not see the hypocrisy of your decisions when Senator Murray of the Finance Committee asked emphatically, “How can we justify taking FEDERAL DOLLARS for transportation but not for PEOPLE?

There are no federal tax dollars to be saved by Louisiana voters for turning away this money.  We won’t get a tax break, instead our federal tax dollars that could have helped working people in Louisiana will now go to help working people in another state. Way to go gentlemen.

You have probably not lost a minute’s sleep over your decisions to NOT back the Medicaid Expansion bills.  You more than likely think you’ve done your Governor proud and that he will in some way reciprocate for your blind loyalty.  But please do not assume we will forget for one second how you voted.  We will remember and we will make sure each and every one of your constituents knows how you voted and what those votes mean to HONEST HARDWORKING PEOPLE in Louisiana.

 Posted by at 7:57 am