Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, sponsored a rally on Monday to stand up against extending Medicaid coverage to nearly 400,000 low-income Virginia residents. Hundreds of people gathered at the state capitol building during a meeting of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to oppose expanding the program under Obamacare.
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has already rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. But the state may still choose to opt in, and the General Assembly formed a commission to study the provisions that Virginia would need to put in place in order to do so. If Virginia accepted the health law’s optional expansion, the federal government would pick up the total cost of expanding the Medicaid to cover additional uninsured people, gradually reducing that federal contribution to 90 percent.
Americans for Prosperity isn’t interested in that. In addition to drumming up opposition to expanding Medicaid in Virginia, the Koch-backed group launched similar initiatives in Pennsylvania and Michigan this summer. And according to the group’s website, “AFP has been involved with paid efforts to stop Medicaid expansion in Arkansas, Montana, and Louisiana.”
The group has also been engaged in spin campaigns against the health law as a whole. This summer, AFP spent millions on anti-Obamacare ads that mislead Americans about the implications of health reform. And in highly-insured red states where GOP governors have slowly begun cooperating with health reform — like Gov. Rick Scott (R) in Florida — AFP has poured money into ad campaigns attacking Republicans for softening their stance on Obamacare.
Due largely in part to this type of Obamacare obstruction, many Americans have no idea how to enroll in the new health insurance plans that will become available in October. And thanks to the states that continue to resist Medicaid expansion, two-thirds of the low-income Americans who would have been eligible for the program won’t get that coverage next year.
The Koch Brothers aren’t the only conservatives launching coordinated attacks against health reform this summer. This month, the Heritage Foundation is kicking off a nine-city tour to drum up support for defunding Obamacare. The right-wing think tank plans to spend more than half a million dollars on ads to accompany the push, and it’s currently attempting to market its “Stop Obamacare” campaign with violent gun imagery.