Muftic: Court’s Obamacare ruling could have political consequences |

Muftic: Court’s Obamacare ruling could have political consequences

Felicia Muftic
Courtesy Photo |

OK. I admit to being a political science nerd. I like poring over government data and other credible sources when my curiosity is piqued or I see some posting or comment somewhere wondering if what the commentator said was true.

Having a nerd moment, hearing a report that Arizona passed a law that would prohibit their citizens from ever having a state based Obamacare health exchange, I wondered if that very red western state was a precursor of things to follow in Southern states. Looming is a Supreme Court ruling anticipated in June about whether the federal exchanges could or could not subsidize the cost of premiums and whether only state exchanges could do it.

America is not only divided by red and blue states. It is also a country in which some of the states are sicker and poorer in a sick country. According to a recent study by Save the Children Foundation, of all of the developed nations, the United States has the highest risk of maternal death and in the health of children, we are “dead last.”

There is a correlation between health and the partisan political divide. Most of the red states also did not allow expansion of Medicaid to those who made just above the poverty line and did not set up their state exchanges. They are the ones who are the most likely to follow the Arizona actions since their GOP-dominated legislatures will have to debate whether they will set up state exchanges.

If they decide not to do it if the Court rules against federal exchanges offering subsidies and ruling only state Obamacare exchanges could do so, millions will lose the affordable health insurance they obtained from the federal exchange in the past year and a half. This will present a potential political firestorm for the GOP legislatures.

One of the most useful methods of displaying data in a wide view lens is to look at the maps with state-by-states shadings of the degrees of best, next best, not so good or just plain at the bottom of their category list. It does not take much to look at the correlation of the list bottoms with geographic concentrations of the lowest categories in the South. There always are a few outriders in certain categories particularly, premature deaths and lowest medium income.

Most dramatically, the presidential 2012 red state map and the current map of states not expanding Medicaid are nearly exact matches. I found that the worst ranked for premature deaths (they define as dying before age 75) are Oklahoma, New Mexico Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and Alabama. Texas and Arizona came out a bit above the worst, as did Florida. Arizona shares a retirement destination for those on Medicare with Florida.

The percent without health insurance of any kind, Medicare, Medicaid, employers, or Obamacare, also correlated strongly with the premature death rate. Texas has the highest uninsured rate, and depending on what is measured, Texas is still below the national median by most measures.

For the sources and studies tapped, visit

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