Medicaid Expansion Lets Convicts Rob the Elderly and Vulnerable of Health Care

by John Quiggin on October 1, 2014

Since we’re on the topic of appalling and bizarre things said by rightwingers, here’s my entry, from this morning’s inbox, with the headline above. It’s from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Florida thinktank closely linked to ALEC (it also has some overlap with Cato and the State Policy Network).

The “argument” is that the expansion gives health care to poor people “many of whom (35 percent) with a record of run-ins with the criminal justice system”. This is illustrated with a “light-hearted” YouTube cartoon of convicts (riding in Cadillacs, naturally) pushing old ladies out of the line to get into the luxurious health care club that is Medicaid.

Given the catchy use of percentages (the 35 per cent figure is applicable to any assistance given to the poor), we can expect to see this one resurface in the Repub memepond on a regular basis. Paging Mitt Romney.



Gareth Wilson 10.01.14 at 9:26 am

It just shows the problem with basing policy on compassion for individuals. I’m sure a lot of nasty criminals would get health care under this policy, but so what? The policy should be introduced because it’s good for the country, not because every recipient is sympathetic. Likewise, Michael Brown was an utterly despicable thug who I have absolutely no sympathy for. But he still shouldn’t have been shot, because shooting jaywalkers, or even robbers, isn’t good policy.


Alex 10.01.14 at 10:30 am

This is our old friend, incremental radicalisation, isn’t it? If your unique selling point is to floor the pedal on extremism, you have to keep finding new levels of crazy or someone else will.


MPAVictoria 10.01.14 at 1:07 pm

So what? Do convicts not deserve health care now? The majority of them are only guilty of minor property or drug offenses. So stealing a chocolate bar means you should go without health coverage for the rest of your life?

/Right wingers are the fucking worst.


Dr. Hilarius 10.01.14 at 2:48 pm

Nothing surprising here, it’s just an extension of the underlying principle of the right; anything we get is deserved, anything you get isn’t.


Bruce Baugh 10.01.14 at 3:09 pm

During the debates over whether liberals should support the ACA, I started talking about what we owe people who are ugly, stupid, and mean. It got interesting responses, often illuminating places where folks I was chatting with were carrying around “only for the worthy” baggage without thinking about it.


Area Man 10.01.14 at 5:10 pm

Would the logic apply equally in reverse — elderly Medicare recipients are stealing benefits from poor people?


roger gathman 10.01.14 at 5:45 pm

Wait until they find out that those criminals are using toilets connected to publicly funded sewers! Plus, how does that getaway car getaway – on your publicly funded roads!
I think CATO would be totally comfortable with privatizing the lot. Normal people, less so.


TM 10.01.14 at 5:57 pm

It should be noted that this is really an argument for excluding a large class of people from equal protection. In other words, it’s not just extreme or stupid, it’s positively fascist. And this something I keep saying, liberals just still don’t quite get it how extremist their opponents really are. Don’t think this is “just” campaign propaganda. This is at the heart of the right wing movement. They are fascists at heart and if they ever get the power to practically realize their ideas, this is what they will create – a fascist state. It won’t look exactly like those we know from history – history doesn’t repeat in detail – but it will be a society essentially founded on inequality and exclusion. And heck how far along the path we have already come! Most American liberals really in their hearts believe that fascism could never happen in this country but “this country” already has the highest incarceration rate in the world. How much badder does it have to get before people are waking up?


Adam Hammond 10.01.14 at 6:03 pm

“many of whom (35 percent) with a record of run-ins with the criminal justice system”

Umm. only 35%? That seems low.

I am not sure what the edges of the criminal justice system are, and “run-ins” is pretty hard to define. I am worried that I might be in this category of totally unworthy people! Fortunately, I think I am given a pass because I am not poor and I am white. Whew!


Dr. Hilarius 10.01.14 at 7:24 pm

I suspect that a non-trivial number of people who would agree that we should exclude those with “run-ins with the criminal justice system” in fact have criminal histories or family members with same. It’s those OTHER people who need to be excluded from medicare.

I was just renewing my concealed carry permit last week and chatting with the cop who handles some of the paperwork. She told me that her problem applicants are white guys with felony or DV convictions who get irate when told they can’t get a gun permit. They think that those laws were only supposed to apply to black gang bangers and similar, not upstanding citizens with a minor blemish on their history.


Gordon Barnes 10.01.14 at 7:36 pm

The right wing is always so good at exploiting our cognitive biases, and this is a case in point. There are several biases being exploited here, but here is just one. The way in which percentages are described influences people in irrational ways. For example, if you tell someone that an operation has a 10% chance of success, then they are much more likely to think that it’s a good idea than if you tell them that it has a 90% chance of failure. A similar move is being made here. If I were to say “They’re giving health care to poor people, and only 65% of them are innocent any crime,” then I suspect that people would not have the same reaction to the facts. This is also true of a bunch of the statistics put out by the Heritage Foundation about poor people. They choose their numerals very carefully — in just the way required to trigger these biases.


JW Mason 10.01.14 at 7:50 pm

I was just renewing my concealed carry permit last week



Dr. Hilarius 10.01.14 at 10:17 pm

JW Mason@12: I’ve had a CCW permit since 1984. I ride a mountain bike in remote areas and own property in a rural area without cell reception or police response. Many people assume I carry out of fear of bear or cougar. No fear of wildlife, only people. The permit also covers me in transporting a loaded gun.

The only time I’ve carried in the city was when I was trapping feral cats (for spay/neuter and adoption) in a crack-infested area late at night.

There have been multiple times in my life when I would have been legally justified in using lethal force but did everything possible, including putting myself at considerable risk, to avoid any gunplay. Rest assured, I have no kinship with the NRA or open carry nuts. But neither am I phobic about firearms. We should go shooting sometime. Targets only. I don’t hunt. Hell, I even try to save the rats my cat brings home.


MPAVictoria 10.02.14 at 1:18 am

You just know he was waiting for someone to ask him why.

/ I have lived in 3 different major cities and never once been in a situation where I needed a gun.


Dan Riley 10.02.14 at 2:06 am

American conservatives have internalized the idea that any government intervention is necessarily negative sum. Even when the old system is the goofy result of previous government intervention. According to this view, improving access to health care for those people must entail reduced access to a degraded system for everyone else.


Robespierre 10.03.14 at 11:59 am

Just thinking, unless most lawbreakers die young, old people pretty much by definition have had more run-ins with justice than young people.


Jerry Vinokurov 10.05.14 at 5:48 am

Likewise, Michael Brown was an utterly despicable thug who I have absolutely no sympathy for.

the fuuuck….?

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