Last Modified: Friday, December 30, 2016 8:27 AM
The presidential results in Louisiana and Kentucky raise an interesting question about why voters who have benefited from Obamacare would cast their ballots for Republican Donald Trump. The Commonwealth Fund posed the question after noting that both states have seen their health care uninsured numbers decline because of Medicaid expansion that is part of Obamacare.
Trump and Republicans want to repeal the program, but Trump carried Kentucky by 62 percent and Louisiana by 58 percent and won both states electoral votes. Kentucky’s uninsured numbers dropped from 21 to 8 percent. Louisiana’s numbers fell from 25 to 18 percent, according to a report in The Times-Picayune.
The Commonwealth Fund describes itself as a private foundation that aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality and greater efficiency. Its work is aimed at low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults.
Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the fund, said the disconnect between voters in both states and how they have benefited from Obamacare “is a really perplexing point.” He said the same thing doesn’t happen with Medicare because recipients of that federal health care program vote for candidates who say they will keep Medicare in place.
A reporter for Vox, a general interest news site, interviewed Kentucky voters who supported Trump by large margins and found that although many of them voted for Trump they hoped Medicaid expansion would continue to grow. Kentucky got a head start on Louisiana because it expanded Medicaid a year before Louisiana, which didn’t expand its program until Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards took office this year. The Commonwealth Fund said there is reason to believe that Louisiana will experience the same decline in the number of uninsured citizens that Kentucky experienced.
Sara Collins, vice president of health care coverage at the Commonwealth Fund, said the two states are similar in demographics. Both have high numbers of people living in poverty, and Louisiana has been aggressive in reaching out to people eligible for Medicaid coverage.
“There are also similarities between Kentucky and Louisiana when it comes to low-income adults who reported problems getting access to health care because of cost,” Collins said.
Trump has said he wants to keep key features of Obamacare like requiring companies to cover pre-existing conditions and letting youngsters stay on family policies until age 26. However, something has to be done because the health care program in its current form has become too costly and health insurers are dropping out of the program. Federal subsidies have helped some families, but many middle class families don’t qualify for the grants.
Unfortunately, what Trump and the GOP intend to replace Obamacare with is unknown at the moment. The sooner a solid plan emerges, the less disconnect there might be by voters like those in Kentucky and Louisiana. In fact, the entire country is anxiously awaiting the alternative plan.