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Volsky writes: "The targeting lawmakers in Virginia tasked with deciding whether the state should accept federal dollars to provide insurance to individuals and families below 133 percent of the federal poverty line."

David Koch (center) and his brother Charles. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
David Koch (center) and his brother Charles. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Koch Brothers Spending Millions to Deny Health Coverage to Low-Income Americans

By Igor Volsky, ThinkProgress

20 October 13


onservative advocates funded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch have launched a massive campaign pressuring states to deny health care coverage to lower income Americans through the Medicaid expansion contained in the Affordable Care Act.

The effort, orchestrated by the group Americans for Prosperity, is targeting lawmakers in Virginia tasked with deciding whether the state should accept federal dollars to provide insurance to individuals and families below 133 percent of the federal poverty line ($31,321 in income for a family of four). Volunteers with the organization are distributing flyers through door-to-door canvassing, attending committee hearings, and according to one lawmakers who has become a target of the campaign, intimidating constituents.

As many as 400,000 Virginians could qualify for coverage if the state expands the Medicaid program, but AFP is warning Virginians that the system "will cost Virginia taxpayers billions," require "future tax hikes and budget cuts to vital services like schools, police and fire departments," undermine the "doctor-patient relationship," increase wait times and even endanger lives. "Medicaid patients are almost twice as likely to die during surgery than individuals with private insurance," the group writes on its website.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost of growing the program from 2014 to 2016 and states would contribute 10 percent thereafter. Analysis from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis in Richmond finds that "net savings from Medicaid expansion would average about $135 million per year in the upcoming budget cycle" since expanding Medicaid "would allow the state to use federal funds instead of state dollars for these programs that already provide care to the uninsured in Virginia."

Seventy-six percent of Virginia doctors treat new Medicaid patients, and the "share of doctors accepting new Medicaid patients is nearly the same as the share who are accepting new patients with private insurance or Medicare," the Institute reports. While Medicaid beneficiaries tend to be less healthy than the general uninsured population, people who do enroll in the program "are 25 percent more likely to report that their health is 'good' or 'excellent.'"

The GOP's refusal to fully implement the Affordable Care Act will leave more than half of the nation's uninsured working poor, approximately 8 million people, without access to health insurance. The 26 GOP-controlled states not participating in the law's Medicaid expansion are home to a disproportionate share of low-income Americans who aren't poor enough to qualify for the existing Medicaid program and make too much to be eligible for subsidies in the ACA's insurance marketplaces.

Americans for Prosperity has spent millions "in states around the country, including Arkansas, Florida, Ohio, Louisiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, to run the kind of aggressive campaign that it is now waging here in Virginia, where much will depend on the governor's race," the New York Times notes. Democrat Terry McAuliffe favors expansion, while his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, does not. The Virginia panel weighing in on the matter will decide the question after the Nov. 5 election. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+27 # DaveM 2013-10-20 22:03
I would like to know what the Kochs have to lose should this measure come to pass as it presumably will. Or is it just "the principle of the thing"? When you have as much money, you can start battles merely on the basis of "I don't like it". Sad that they have nothing better to do with their time and money.
+7 # Barbara K 2013-10-21 11:12
Being wealthy doesn't make them any better than the rest of us, only richer. We are much better people than this pair of greedy slime, and we deserve to have Health Care. What is wrong with these selfish SOBs that they think we are not good enough for Health Care? Well I don't think they are good enough to be Americans. They are the Nazis their parents were. What a nasty bunch, busy buying up America. I had a listing of their products and it is still here somewhere, but it is available online, someone has the info below. They even own many colleges. You will truly be flabbergasted to see what these cretins own, hope they are not on this Earth much longer. They will try to own it.

+7 # Cassandra2012 2013-10-21 13:01
You're right! They are trying to control all the media-- even PBS and they tried (so far unsuccessfully) to buy the Chicago Tribune. Their products include:
Georgia -Pacific paper goods, Brawny, Dixie, Northern toilet tissue, Sparkle etc. Also, TEFLON! I make it a point not to buy these tainted products.
+1 # Joe Bob 2013-10-22 01:03
You got that right. Who are these non humans anyway.
0 # LAellie33 2013-10-24 02:55
The Kochs should croak!
+4 # Texas Aggie 2013-10-21 13:52
I have wondered that myself. It could be that since their father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society ("Here to save our country from a communistic plot.") that they were indoctrinated with this idea that the government helping other people was evil since an early age. Then they have all this extra money lying around with nothing else to spend it on so they finance things like the Teahadists, Heritage Foundation, The Cato Foundation, and a lot of other reactionary groups.
+2 # PGreen 2013-10-22 14:34
It is difficult to speculate on motives. I suspect that the Kochs oppose such spending because of a general opposition to public welfare programs. They'd probably like to see every necessary function of government to be private. All social programs could thus be eliminated. Even military defense could be managed by private contractors (think mercenaries a la Haliburton.) This system would give them the most control over everything, and eliminate democratic, public participation. My speculation isn't so far-fetched--it is the logical extension of the policies that are endorsed by (what I shall call) the "Plutocratic Right." Chris Hedges refers to this system as "a kind of neo-feudalism, or inverted totalitarianism :
"it doesn’t find its expression through a demagogue or a charismatic leader, but through the anonymity of the corporate state that purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the iconography and language of American patriotism, and yet internally has seized all of the levers of power."
+12 # Gootarama 2013-10-20 22:16
Koch's have their names on some impressive charitible structures....h ospitals, civic institutions, etc. Unfortunately they don't treat the little guys as well as they pander to the far right politicos.
+13 # theory≠opinion 2013-10-21 00:29
As if they aren't going to ram through the budget cuts to schools and services anyway.
+9 # RLF 2013-10-21 06:13
Isn't there a boycott of Koch bros.s products and services? I would love to see a comprehensive list if there one floating about. Thanks.
+6 # Doll 2013-10-21 08:27
One that I know of is Georgia-Pacific paper products. There are many others.
+8 # Glen 2013-10-21 09:12
Google Koch Brothers Holdings and you will be astounded at what you find. They literally are taking over the country. Some folks have said bought and sold the country, but it is much worse. The two of them are worth about 76 billion.
+13 # Lolanne 2013-10-21 06:34
If I could wave a magic wand, I'd have these two tried for crimes against humanity, found guilty, and sentenced to live like the poorest of those they are trying so hard to exterminate. They need to feel what it's like to be sick and unable to afford medical care. They need to go to bed hungry and wake up hungry, with no money to buy food. They need to live in a hovel with the cockroaches they're so like. They should have done unto them what they're trying so hard to do to so many others.
-8 # MidwesTom 2013-10-21 07:09
As some states accept the advanced Medicaid and some do not, we run the risk of some states attracting poor people from states with poorer benefits, thus increasing the tax burden in the more generous states. Accepting advanced Medicaid in Illinois is projected to cost this already broke state $1.5 Billion in three years. Unless they level the playing field this law and it's options will further divide this country.
+6 # Texas Aggie 2013-10-21 13:55
Glad to see that you are on board with making this obligatory in ALL states.
+16 # pernsey 2013-10-21 07:35
The Koch bros. are so afraid that President Obama will have success with the affordable care act that the president and the democratic party will look good and be seen by the majority of Americans positively. They already know that the republicans look horrible so they have to discredit president Obama every chance they get. Even if it means ruining health care for the very people that actually vote for republicans.

The Kochs got billions they dont have to worry about health care.
+5 # rockieball 2013-10-21 09:04
They are all in their mid 70's or older. Hopefully when they go their children will not have been brain washed by their racism, bigotry or their greed for more money and power.
+11 # ChristopherCurrie 2013-10-21 09:29
The families of those who die due to the Koch Brothers' efforts to deny their families Medicaid coverage should SUE the Koch Brothers for the amount of money their state would have received plus 10 billion dollars in punitive damages for their deliberately DEADLY conduct!
+8 # motamanx 2013-10-21 12:02
Open letter to the Koch Brothers:
Want to cut spending? Cut the defense budget in half.
There's a trillion and a half dollars saved right there.
+3 # Texas Aggie 2013-10-21 13:57
Except that a lot of that military spending ends up in the Koch's pockets so let's not go overboard with this spending cutting.

+3 # Texas Aggie 2013-10-21 14:01
Doesn't that face just cry out to be slapped?

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