Daniel Suddeath

Daniel Suddeath

Politicians have a way of preying on our emotions.

Kentucky may not be the richest state, economically-speaking, but we have hard workers. The Bluegrass State is also the Blue Collar State. We value an honest day's labor, and we tend to frown upon laziness and lack of motivation.

Gov. Matt Bevin tapped into that tradition when he called for changes to require "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients either work or volunteer in the community for 20 hours a week.

Sounds fair, right? If you're able to work, you should, and most Kentuckians would agree with such a statement.

The underlining political message is that hard-working men and women are paying medical bills for people who sit at home and draw free services when they could be out working. It's the old political play where it's suggested that you, the middle-class American, would be better off if your tax dollars weren't being spent on helping people who should be able to help themselves.

The only problem is, according to a study recently released by The Commonwealth Fund and detailed in a story by Kentucky Health News, about 97 percent of Medicaid recipients surveyed already meet the requirements proposed by the Bevin administration.

The story published by Kentucky Health News stated that the New York-based company interviewed 500 low-income Kentucky residents including 297 people who said they were on Medicaid.

Based on the Medicaid respondents, the survey "found that 44% were unable to work because of a disability; 34% were working at least 20 hours a week; 11% were spending at least 20 hours a week in school, caring for a family member or participating in community service; 8% were spending at least 20 hours a week looking for work or training for a job; and 3% would likely not satisfy the proposed requirements," the story states.

But don't take this study as the end-all to the debate.

The Institute for Policy Studies did an analysis of where your tax dollars went in 2017. The average taxpayer paid $3,533 for Medicaid and Medicare in 2017 to insure one out of every three Americans, according to the study. For those whippersnappers out there who believe that's a lot, keep in mind one day your health coverage will likely come through Medicare.

The average taxpayer paid $4,328 in 2017 for the Pentagon and military. Before you say we should support the troops so that's no a big expense, the study found only five cents of every one of those tax dollars actually went to military pay and benefits.

Back to the poor folks who we're supposed to believe are ruining our lives and stealing our money. The study found the average taxpayer contributed just $80 in 2017 to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is also known as welfare.

Of course, there are people who receive Medicaid who could hold a job, but they're not the majority. There are people and businesses being subsidized on all sorts of levels that could get by without it or find another profession, including billion-dollar companies. The point is, if we're concerned about saving money and helping out the middle-class American, we should find someone else to blame for their woes other than the poor and downtrodden.

This isn't a defense of hard-working Kentuckians, but rather another assault on subsidization and what some have labeled as Entitlement Programs.

Don't believe for a minute this will stop with Medicaid. The next step will be trimming back if not ending Medicare. Then the same folks will be coming after Social Security.

Keep in mind many of those calling for these changes, including Bevin, are personally wealthy. They want to sell you a bill of goods about the American Dream and hard work, but oftentimes they didn't get wealthy through such a path.

How are you and I going to have a stable financial future? Through higher wages, better benefits and corporate accountability. Do you think the politicians who are so opposed to subsidies for low-income people are in favor of helping us get there?

These are the same elected officials who want to defund labor unions — the organizations that push for fair wages for the worker.

They don't want wages to be raised because that hurts the bottom line of the wealthy business owners who support them, many of whom receive major tax breaks.

Don't be fooled by election rhetoric. You work hard for your income and you deserve accountability as a taxpayer, but the fact you can't afford a new house, an i-Phone 11 or a vacation to the tropics isn't because of the poor folks on Medicaid.

Suddeath is the editor of the Glasgow Daily Times. His column appears in the Thursday edition and at various times throughout the week. Reach him at 270-678-5171, or by email at dsuddeath@glasgowdailytimes.com. Follow him on Twitter @DsuddeathGDT.

Recommended for you