Phil Bryant: ‘Just Go to the ER’
Mississippi governor Phil Bryant sat down for a Q&A with Kaiser Health News about insurance exchanges, Medicaid, and Obamacare. Keep in mind that 19% of Mississippians are uninsured, the fifth highest rate in the nation.
KHN: Some experts may argue people new to Medicaid have many health issues they need to address.
BRYANT: I make the argument that it’s free. It’s free and you have nothing else to do.
KHN: Are there any positive benefits to people being on Medicaid?
BRYANT: Medicaid was meant to be a temporary [stop]gap for providing you medical treatment while you are looking for a job. Now we are saying, you can have a job and still receive Medicaid. So we have changed the whole dynamic. There is very little incentive for those 940,000 people on Medicaid to find a better job, or to go back to school, or to get [into] a workforce training program because they say: Look, if I go over $33,000, [I] will lose Medicaid. There is no one who doesn’t have health care in America. No one. Now, they may end up going to the emergency room. There are better ways to deal with people that need health care than this massive new program.
Bryant is far from the first one to express that sentiment. Mitt Romney did it during the campaign, and George W. Bush famously did so a few years back. But for the millionth time, the ER is for emergencies. It’s in the name. It is not, and never has been, a substitute for long term longitudinal healthcare.