Friday, June 07, 2013
Does Sebelius Have a Racial Subtext?
Doesn't anyone think the maps showing which states have rejected the Medicaid expansion look a bit familiar? Subtract Oklahoma, and you are basically looking at a map of the Confederacy, at least as far as the south is concerned. (Note: some of the maps available on the web are inaccurate -- you have to verify the information state by state and some legislatures are still considering the matter). But I'm sure about my own state because the Louisiana legislature just finished its session without approving the Medicaid expansion -- opposed of course by our Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. There is no question that the vast majority of the people affected -- often described accurately as "poor" and "minority" are, in fact, also "African American" and "Hispanic" and, in the South at least, tend to vote Democratic in presidential elections. The Sebelius case itself highlighted how some states, particularly such as Alabama, historically had extremely low rates of reimbursement under Medicaid which tended to exclude poor blacks from the program. But opting out of a program that would have been initially totally federally-funded really takes the anti-minority cake in my humble opinion. It is not news that obeisance to the values of federalism have historically operated against the interests of blacks and minorities. I'm afraid that when Chief Justice Roberts and six other justices paid homage to those values and created the opt-out, that also created the opportunity for the white south (now the Republican white south) to rise again. But is anyone really proud of the result? Justice Kennedy likes to argue that federalism always promotes liberty. Has the "liberty" of poor blacks and Hispanics been enhanced by the benighted actions of state legislatures operating directly contrary to their interests, actions that may actually kill some of them (as Paul Krugman points out today)? I think not!