Hey, Leave Our Medicaid Alone!

The GOP/Trumpcare/national nightmare healthcare bill was a non-starter–but don’t be waving your healthcare freak flag just yet. There’s a budget coming down the pike and no one knows how hideous it will be where the health of mid-life women is concerned. Nor do we know exactly how GOP lawmakers will chip away at Obamacare with regulatory tweaks that undermine key provisions.

The centerpiece of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, was the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to cover people previously not eligible. The Medicaid expansion was particularly significant for women between the ages of 55 and 64, because we are more likely to rely on our spouse’s employer insurance. When the spouse retires or the spouse dies–presto, no more health insurance. Medicaid expansion helped fill a terrible gap.

“Grey divorce” is another factor. Of people divorced after age 50, only 11.4 percent of men wind up in poverty, while almost 27% percent of women do.

Women of all ages make up 70 percent of adults on Medicaid, and more than one in non-elderly women received health coverage through Medicaid before the Obamacare expansion. If all states implemented the Medicaid expansion offered under Obamacare, the proportion of older women without healthcare insurance would have fallen from 11.7 in 2010 to 2 percent.

As it stands, 18 states opted out of the Medicaid expansion. That’s a damn shame, because those states put at the risk the lives of people with too much income to be eligible for Medicaid under the pre-Obamacare standard and too little to qualify for Obamacare subsidies for private healthcare insurance.

If there’s anything we learned from the GOP-Trumpcare debacle, it’s that Medicaid expansion is saving lives and a lot of those lives belong to mid-life women. Now that GOP lawmakers have noticed that we like being alive and having decent healthcare, it’s going to be a lot harder to take Medicaid away.

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