Muppets and Medicaid

As we do every year around Christmas time, we sat down as a family to watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. This is one of my favorite family traditions that helps us remember what Christmas is really all about. As I’ve gotten older and as different things are happening in my life, I have taken something new from the story each time I watch it. This year I couldn’t help but find some similarities between specific current events and the story Mr. Dickens told so well.

As we do every year around Christmas time, we sat down as a family to watch “The Muppet Christmas Carol”. This is one of my favorite family traditions that helps us remember what Christmas is really all about. As I’ve gotten older and as different things are happening in my life, I have taken something new from the story each time I watch it. This year I couldn’t help but find some similarities between specific current events and the story Mr. Dickens told so well.

There are a few scenes that particularly stood out to me that I want to discuss here. The first being the encounter between a poor rabbit boy (remember, this is the Muppet version) and Ebenezer Scrooge. The boy comes to Scrooge’s place of business singing carols asking “a penny for the song.” Scrooge, who has just professed his distaste for Christmas to his nephew becomes enraged toward the boy and ends up throwing a Christmas wreath at him as the boy runs away. This scene stood out to me more this year because my two year old son voiced the observation that Scrooge “made a bad choice.”

Watching this I was reminded of an issue that was discussed extensively (but without resolution) this year in the Utah Legislature. This past year in the Utah legislature there have been several attempts to expand Medicaid in various forms. The main concern for the lack of action on the issue was that the legislature didn’t want to pay for the estimated $78 million per year to cover the expansion, even though Utah’s tax dollars are helping pay for the expansion in other states by not opting to expand in our own. What concerns me about this response is that Utah will have a $560 million surplus in the budget next year. 360 people have died because they didn’t have insurance coverage but would have had it under the expanded Medicaid. To see this number, and then to see our legislators say we won’t help these people don’t have the money to help these people is downright infuriating, especially coming from people who claim to be pro-life. This is similar to the story of Scrooge (Republican Legislators), a man who has a surplus of money, looking at a poor beggar boy (people in the coverage gap), and turning him away while throwing a Christmas wreath at him as he flees.

At the end of it all, it should be easy for us as a compassionate people to see the Legislature’s actions for what they really are. As my two year old son simply put it, they “made a bad choice.”

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