John Oliver Rips GOP's Torpedoing of Obamacare (VIDEO)
John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" is rare in late-night television, tackling complex but important political issues without missing a comedic beat. Obamacare isn't a sexy topic, but the wave of states that are refusing medicare expansions and leaving hundreds of thousands without healthcare makes it a terribly urgent one, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by John Oliver Sunday night.
Three states, Mississippi, Virginia and Kentucky, have elections coming up Tuesday that could determine the fate of thousands of their must vulnerable citizens; namely, those who fall in the "Medicaid gap"—people who make too much money for normal state Medicaid but not enough for the federal government's marketplace subsidies. The reasons for this? A largely overlooked caveat in the Supreme Court's 2015 decision to "uphold" Obamacare gave certain conservative states a way out, by denying the federal assistance in Medicaid expansion and leaving millions uninsured.
"Under the law," Oliver explained, "the federal government would pay 100% of costs for the first three years, eventually decreasing to 90%. For relatively little, states could cover their poorest citizens, it was an exceptionally favorable deal. But guess what many states decided to do?" Oliver followed this with a depressing montage of right-wing governors, including Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, breathlessly railing against "socialist" Obamacare and rejecting the federal subsidies.
"Twenty states have so far declined to expand Medicaid," Oliver said, "leaving over 3 million people in the Medicaid gap—people in the illogical situation of not making enough money to receive government assistance."
The "Last Week Tonight" host peppered the segment with real-life examples, including one diabetic woman who has to reuse needles because she makes too much for Medicaid but not enough for Obamacare's marketplace option.
It's a sickening bit of right-wing brinksmanship with real human costs. Watch the clip below: