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Monday, June 9, 2014

Senator trades health care coverage for his constituents for a job regulating a product that will give them cancer.


To call him pond scum would be to insult pond scum.

How badly do Republicans want people not to have health care? Just ask the pols in Virginia:
Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. 
Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. 
The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe’s proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians. 
Del. Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) said Republicans were unable to win the policy argument about Medicaid expansion, so they have resorted to other means. 
“It’s astounding to me. The House Republican caucus will do anything and everything to prevent low-income Virginians from getting health care. . . . They figure the only way they could win was to give a job to a state senator,” Surovell said. “At least they can’t offer Terry McAuliffe a job. I hope Terry continues to stand up to these bullies.” 
Puckett, a senator since 1998, did not respond to calls seeking comment. Other Republicans denied that Puckett was offered the jobs in exchange for his resignation.
Jamelle Bouie adds:
Because of outrage over the attempted bribe, Puckett won’t be taking the job. Even still, he’s leaving the Senate and giving Republicans the majority they need to block Obamacare in Virginia. (And it appears his daughter will get her judgeship.) 
If this were just another round of routine political combat, it would be annoyingly venal—irksome but not consequential. L’affaire Puckett, however, is a big deal. Under the Medicaid expansion, an estimated 400,000 Virginians would get health insurance, as well as access to needed health services like check-ups, medicines, surgeries, and cancer treatments. It’s no exaggeration to say that there’s a health access crisis in Virginia, which Medicaid could ameliorate, if not solve altogether. 
And Puckett isn’t some bystander to these problems. The former state senator represented the 38th District, which draws from 10 counties in southwestern Virginia: Tazewell, Pulaski, Russell, Buchanan, Dickenson, Wise, Radford, Bland, Smyth, and Norton. This is one of the poorest corners of the state. The poverty rate in Russell County, for instance, is 20.4 percent, compared to 11 percent for the state writ large. 
Even worse is Buchanan County, where 25 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Not only is it one of the poorest counties in Virginia, it’s one of the most impoverished in the entire United States. And according to a recent analysis from the Commonwealth Institute, it contains a chunk of the estimated 20,170 uninsured adults in Puckett’s district who are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion.

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