I spoke with several folks this week about what they expected Gov. Sean Parnell to do with his opportunity to expand Medicaid for Alaskans. Only one thought he would turn it down. Everyone else seemed to think he'd heed the plea of the chambers of commerce to support an expansion. The chamber isn't exactly a communist cell, so I thought maybe its voice could reach the ear of our oil lobbyist-turned-oil politician.
When Republican Gov. Jan Brewer accepted the expansion for Arizona, she attributed it to her ability to "weigh the evidence and do the math." Surely, I thought, Parnell could do the same.
On Friday, the governor stunned a lot of us when he announced he wouldn't expand health care to 40,000 Alaskans.
How does he sleep at night? God only knows.
Alaskans will die because of his decision. Really. Literally. (Somebody tell Sarah we finally found a death panel!)
Studies show that people will suffer needlessly because Parnell, who enjoys government-funded health care and has no problem taking federal money for all sorts of things, can't bring himself to take federal money for health care for poor Alaskans. He's so conservative he's willing to flush an estimated 4,000 new Alaska jobs in the process.
Members of the faith community stood outside the governor's press conference Friday holding candles and praying that he could correctly answer the question, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Their prayers were not enough.
Who knows? Maybe Parnell really believes Jesus would say, "Let's don't help people, let's do another state-funded study." Makes sense. There's nothing like another study to make sick people feel better about the treatment they're not getting.
"Can states trust the federal government to not cut and run on its share?" he asked at his press conference. Ha! Yes, that's a big problem. Every time the Department of Defense even dreams about closing a military base here the state runs to Washington and begs for OPM (Other People's Money) to keep it open. And we get it.
Parnell claims to be "pro-life."
The definition of pro-life should include the time between your first breath and your last, not just your time in utero. Being pro-life should include access to health care, education, clean water and food, to name a few life essentials.
Parnell's "pro-life" posturing may be even more hollow than his "Choose Respect" sloganeering. I don't know. It's a horse race.
The big beneficiary of Friday's announcement? Sean Parnell. He's sacrificing the well-being of 40,000 Alaskans to polish his Tea Party credentials. His Medicaid decision is a slap in the face to AARP Alaska, the Alaska Hospital and Nursing Home Association, the Alaska Chamber of Commerce, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Anchorage NAACP, the Anchorage Faith and Action -- Congregations Together, and many, many individual Alaskans, just so he can kiss the patooties of the Koch brothers, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the other outside interests he depends on to stay on the public payroll.
These are the same outfits funding websites cynically designed to confuse Alaskans about the Affordable Care Act, (thanks, John Aronno of Alaska Commons, for pointing out the snake under that rock). Yep, they're paying to stop people from getting insurance.
AARP Alaska State Director Ken Osterkamp, in a press release on behalf of his 90,000 members, pointed out something that has become a pattern for the Parnell administration.
"Equally as disappointing is the fact Governor Parnell chose secrecy over transparency as he made his decision."
Osterkamp added, "In doing so he is giving away the federal tax dollars already paid by Alaskans to the dozens of other states that have chosen, and continue to choose, to expand Medicaid to help those most in need."
That's right. The money goes to states with governors who don't put their political ambitions and wingnut dogma ahead of the health of their citizens.
Shannyn Moore can be heard from 6 to 9 p.m. weekdays on KOAN 1020 AM and 95.5 FM radio.