In Mississippi, Obamacare rolls out on private wheels

A custom-built bus with oversized windows is parked outside a health fair at the University Medical Center. The decal on its side reads, “Making Healthcare Reform Transparent.” Inside the bus are snacks, Wi-Fi and three booths where sales agents from the Humana health-insurance company sit behind laptops and explain the Affordable Care Act to uninsured people. They sign up customers, too.

Mississippi is the poorest, sickest state in the nation, and most insurance companies have avoided it altogether, preferring to do business in more profitable markets. In 36 of Mississippi’s poorest counties, no insurance companies were offering plans that meet ACA guidelines until the Obama administration intervened and asked Kentucky-based Humana to help fill in the gaps. Humana had two of these buses built to spread awareness and drum up business. They’re zigzagging around the state on a tour called Covering Mississippi. So far they’ve traveled 7,000 miles, and the agents have seen more than a thousand people…

Nowhere else in America has a greater need for affordable, accessible health care. Mississippi has the lowest life expectancy in the country, the highest rates of obesity and diabetes, and an infant mortality rate closer to Sri Lanka’s and Botswana’s than to the rest of the United States’. Heart disease is epidemic, and nearly 20 percent of the state’s population — some 511,000 people — were uninsured when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act last March…

When the ACA was written, the law required all the states to expand Medicaid. Low-income people who weren’t poor enough to get existing Medicaid would be covered. Then the Supreme Court decided that states had the right not to expand Medicaid. Mississippi, led by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who has described Obamacare as “an assault on the liberty of American citizens,” was one of two dozen states to exercise this right. That left an estimated 300,000 Mississippians with no prospect of health insurance.

Just in case you still labor under the misapprehension that today’s conservatives actually care crap about working people, working poor, poor people. Decades of hatred rooted in racism support a political structure not only tied to elitism; but, willing and able to destroy the lives of people without power.

Mississippi is the worst example of this kind of criminal politics, a gangster economy, corrupt and ready to lie about everything from the weather report to school menus to maintain power for the racist elite.

The classic Southern Strategy of deluding white people into believing that because they are better off than Black folks – they are better off in general – has never changed. It wandered over from Dixiecrat Democrats to Nixonian Republicans. Stupid still trumps ignorance. But, then, that’s been the premise of the Confederacy and States’ Rights since we started the long march towards democracy in 1775.