Outrageous: These States Say $4,600 Per Year Makes You Too Rich For Medicaid

Everyone who lives at or below the federal poverty level can qualify for Medicaid, regardless of what state they live in, right? Wrong. According to a new report from The Kaiser Family Foundation, in states that refused to expand Medicaid, families with as many as three dependent children must earn no more than half—or in some cases, much less than half—of the federal poverty level. Childless adults are ineligible for Medicaid, period, regardless of income, in every one of these states except Wisconsin.

In a state like Texas, families can’t earn more than 19 percent of the federal poverty level in order to qualify for Medicaid. In 2014, the federal poverty level for a family of four was $23,850. That means that, in Texas, a family of four couldn’t have more than $4,531 in total annual income in order to qualify for Medicaid.

Really, Texas? As sad as that is, Texas is not the worst. There’s one state with a cutoff even lower than that: Alabama, at 18 percent. In 2014, a family of four in Alabama couldn’t earn any more than $4,293 to qualify for Medicaid.

Medicaid was voluntary, and most states opted into the program for the same reason many states opted into expansion under the ACA: The federal funds were too attractive to ignore. But, if a state’s cutoff is going to be so low, that makes their whole program a sham, and that’s probably intentional. Texas and Alabama can’t seriously believe that families earning over $4,600 per year can afford their own health insurance. That’s less than $400 per month. Even in subsidized housing, with food stamps and other forms of aid, $400 per month is barely livable.

The biggest problem with this is not the fact that $400 per month is impossible to live on. It’s that the subsidies for Obamacare don’t kick in at those levels, either. So these people can’t qualify for Medicaid, and can’t get help with their insurance premiums through the ACA. So they’re screwed, even though they’re well below the federal poverty level.

The Washington Post says that gap could shrink this year, because there are some Republican governors who are looking for ways to get medical coverage for their impoverished residents. However, they still have to get it past their legislatures, which has proven difficult in some places. Perhaps it’s time for these states to be honest about how they see the poor, if they can’t bring themselves to do anything real to help them. The truth is, conservatives think of the poor as a burden, as unworthy, as people who’ve failed at life.


Featured image from The Kaiser Family Foundation