Medicaid expansion even more important

Nothing like getting the rug pulled out from beneath you to force you to re-evaluate your attitude about things.

In December, I lost my high-paying oilfield services job — I went from earning $40 per hour to nothing in a heartbeat. And I’m not alone. Day before yesterday, I read about 75 North Slope ASRC employees who thought they were attending an early morning safety meeting when, instead, they were informed that they were being laid off and by 9:30 a.m., they were flying southbound.

I bet that was a quiet flight. I wonder what they were thinking? I suspect that anxiety, fear, embarrassment and shame were emotions for some. How were they going to break it to their loved ones that they’d lost their jobs?

And what about those workers who have dependents with serious health conditions — how will their loved ones continue to receive the critical health care they need now that they no longer have medical insurance and can’t afford a COBRA policy?

Previously, many of these folks looked down upon the uninsured who rely on the local emergency room for their primary care. And now many of them will have to resort to the very same strategy if they want to keep a sick family member alive. It’s not so funny when it’s happening to you, is it?

These laid-off oilfield workers are joining the ranks of 43,000 other low-income Alaskan workers who can’t afford health insurance. These are good people … women and men who are trying their hardest to survive in an economy characterized by a high cost of living and low wages. Expanding Medicaid is essential to providing them and their families with the health care they need.

The advantages of expanding Medicaid are obvious. It is a pro-life solution that will save the lives of up to 300 Alaskans. It will actually save money for our state and it will generate 4,000 new jobs that might help offset the oilfield jobs we’ll lose. Those of us who pay federal taxes are already paying for Medicaid expansion — for folks in other states whose lawmakers care about them. And if the federal government ever reneges on its commitment to pay for 90 percent of the cost of the program, we can opt out of it.

Medicaid expansion saves lives, saves money and creates jobs. What kind of a person would oppose it?

Please contact Senator Peter Micciche, and Representatives Chenault and Olsen and insist that they do the decent, practical thing and support Medicaid expansion. The life you save may be your own — or that of a loved one. Do the right thing and drop these guys a note.