By Stephen C. Webster on January 31, 2014

Governor Scott Walker's decision to deny federal health care funds for more than 150,000 low-income Wisconsinites will result in up to 671 deaths that could otherwise be prevented, a study released Thursday found.

Wisconsin is one of 25 states where Republicans governors have declined billions of dollars offered by the Obama Administration to expand Medicaid programs that cover low-income and jobless people. A study out this week by researchers at Harvard University and the City University of New York (CUNY) broke down the numbers to discover exactly how many Americans these governors' decisions will impact.

The figures produced by their research are stunning. The data concludes that Republican governors are denying health care to more than 7 million Americans, and somewhere between 7,115 to 17,104 can be expected to die because of this.

"The Supreme Court's decision to allow states to opt out of Medicaid expansion will have adverse health and financial consequences," the study's authors wrote. "...[We] predict that many low-income women will forego recommended breast and cervical cancer screening; diabetics will forego medications, and all low-income adults will face a greater likelihood of depression, catastrophic medical expenses, and death. Disparities in access to care based on state of residence will increase. Because the federal government will pay 100 percent of increased costs associated with Medicaid expansion for the first three years (and 90 percent thereafter), opt-out states are also turning down billions of dollars of potential revenue, which might strengthen their local economy."

Walker's refusal to accept the money means the Wisconsin health system will miss out on $1.8 billion by 2022, according to a study published last year by The Commonwealth Fund. Those losses are not delayed, either: PolitiFact Wisconsin found last June that Walker's decision will cost Wisconsin over $119 million between 2013 and 2015 alone, despite his Administration's claims to the contrary.

However, the human toll of refusing health care to so many people is even more telling than the money Walker is wasting. The Harvard/CUNY study estimates that 152,399 Wisconsinites will go without care because of Walker's political calculation. It also predicts between 139 and 671 deaths due to the governor's refusal to accept health care funds from the Obama Administration.

The largest state forgoing Medicaid funds is Texas, where Governor Rick Perry is refusing health care to an astonishing 2,013,025 people; between 1,840 and 3,035 are expected to die. The second-largest state resisting the Affordable Care Act is Florida, where Governor Rick Scott is declining health care on behalf of 1,266,471 of his lower-income citizens; between 1,158 and 2,221 are expected to die.

There's something to be said for party unity -- a trait sorely lacking in the GOP these days -- but it's hard to imagine why Republican governors like Walker would place their own political ambitions ahead of the needs of their states... Especially now that we know their cold political calculations aren't just wasting our money, they're literally killing us.

Photo: "A doctor with a migraine headache," via Shutterstock.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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