But For Killing Thousands of People, Not the Alleged Sex Scandal –
The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE, Ala. — While the people and what passes for press now in my native state are all a Twitter over allegations that Governor Robert Bentley may have had sex with his chief adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, even though both of them deny it, there is a far more important story involving Bentley that is being totally ignored by everybody, including the Washington Post, which recently blogged about the sex scandal.
According to conservative statistics and analysis readily available on the Web — although far more boring and less titillating than the possibility of a governor having to resign over sex — Bentley is responsible for the deaths of at least 3,669 people over the past three years, 1223 a year, by refusing billions of dollars in federal money to expand health care coverage in the state
According to Huntsville physician Pippa Abston, these deaths amout to “a completely unnecessary premature loss of life.”
“These are people who may have gone to the ER (emergency room) once they got very sick, but not in time to keep them from dying,” she said after studying the numbers at my request. “Some may not have been able to afford critically necessary medication, such as for high blood pressure.”
The numbers come from the Institute of Medicine, which estimates a low 25 percent of excess deaths for uninsured adults.
There are some disputes about the numbers, she said. The non-profit research and education organization Physicians for a National Health Program conducted a study several years ago which estimated an excess death rate of 40 percent, which would mean a far higher number than the 3,669 extrapolated from the 25 percent rate.
This does not take into account all those who suffered physically, mentally and economically by having no access to the health care system at all. No insurance or money for needed medication.
“I am excessively cautious with numbers,” Dr. Abston said, so there could be confounding factors in the research, she said, although that is taken into account.
“I like to be up front that there is a possibility of confounding factors,” she said in an interview conducted in Facebook messages.
But, she indicated, “I don’t think that takes away from the point. If something else were killing over 1000 extra people and we could fix that with an administrative change, I think we’d do it. It’s not like we are asking for something difficult, like for them to stop smoking.”
As for the allegations of the governor having sex with a member of his staff, she said she doesn’t even care if it is true, or not.
“I don’t care what people do in their sex lives, for heavens sakes,” she said. “I agree that this is much more serious. I can’t believe they are threatening recall over sex but letting people die is OK.”
Back in 2013, while running for reelection, Bentley kowtowed to the tea party and missed the deadline for accepting $1.5 billion in federal money for the state to expand and fund health care for about 300,000 residents who had no coverage under the monopoly private health insurance plans of Blue Cross Blue Sheild, or the state Medicaid system as it existed.
At a rally we covered in Birmingham that was ignored by the mainstream media, Grayson Brown, representing the Birmingham Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America, called on the governor to expand health care coverage to prevent people from dying.
“Governor Bentley says we cannot afford it,” Brown said at the time. “He is dead wrong, and I don’t choose my words lightly. We are talking about health care coverage for 300,000 of the working poor and their families. People will die because of this decision.”
Furthermore, in addition to saving lives, expanding Medicaid would have created thousands of jobs, maybe even getting the state’s unemployment rate down to the 5 percent threshold that would have allowed Bentley to collect his paycheck from the governor’s salary he made a show of refusing to get elected the first time in 2010.
The Obama administration had pledged to send $11.4 billion a year to Alabama over the next few years to cover the cost.
“That money would spread through the economy. It would be paid to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists. They would then go spend that money in restaurants, tip waitresses, buy cell phones and cars,” Brown said. “Like blood going through the body, it would grow into $28 billion.”
That would have generated more than $900 million in tax revenue for the state, while the state’s 10 percent portion of the program would have only cost $771 million, according to studies conducted by the University of Alabama.
“What the governor has not told people, what you do not hear on the six o’clock news, is that the taxes are greater than the cost,” Brown said.
He cited the editorial position of David Bronner with the Retirement System of Alabama who has called on the governor to opt in to Obamacare and expand Medicaid in part because it would create 30,000 news jobs in the state.
The blogging outfit that is now leading the reporting on the governor’s sex scandal is none other than the new corporation and Website created by the owners of the Newhouse newspapers in the state, which used to be known as the Birmingham News, the Mobile Press-Register and the Huntsville Times. Now everybody just knows them as blog dot al dot com, although most of the actual reporters who used to work for the papers are long gone, replaced by blog commentators.
Obviously in the era of blogging, Facebook and Twitter, it is easier to afford to pay for a 600 word funny column about the governor’s alleged sex life than looking into the numbers of how many people have died at the governor’s own hand. It was his decision.
Sex is more fun and gets more Web traffic, although it is actually pretty gross and hard to imagine Mr. Burns I mean Mr. Bentley actually having sex with anyone other than maybe one of those old goats on Goat Hill. He is 72-years-old. Only a blogger would fall for this story.
I know. Death is such a Debbie Downer.
But I maintain that Bentley should never have been reelected in 2014 anyway for killing so many people. If only people had known.
All these newspapers and the editorial writers on the Web site now profiting from the Bentley sex scandal story endorsed the Republican Robert Bentley for reelection in 2014. If only the press had done its job and told people about this far more important story, we would not be in the position we are in now: Calling on the governor to resign over an alleged sex scandal.
Oh, but wait. There was one news organization with the foresight and judgement to tell people the truth about what was going to happen. Did you tell your friends, family and neighbors about it by sharing the links? Or did you just share the al dot com links on your Facebook and go along with the crowd?
Maybe you will get onboard the truth telling revolution now and share this link? If not now, when? In 2020 when the newspapers stop publishing completely? Maybe we will still be around to help. Maybe not.
One problem, though, with a Bentley resignation. That would elevate Lt. Gov. Kay Ivy to acting governor. She’s another incompetant tea party Republican who should never have been elected in the first place. At least it wouldn’t be corrupt Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard. He is liable to be convicted and removed from office soon anyway.
Oh, and Happy Easter everybody. Enjoy your chocolate eggs now.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.