Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Republicans screwed the Amish?

I don't want to turn this blog into AmishWatch. But as I noted earlier, the Republicans have created an interesting dynamic with Ohio's Amish community. And now the General Assembly's Medicaid "reform" has put the Amish in a difficult position.

The GOP's outreach to the Amish was an important factor in the election (and possibly in the unfortunate Bush-stole-the-Ohio-election vortex that has sucked in too many of my liberal peers*). The Amish earned and received a big wet sloppy kiss in the form of a blanket exemption from jury dury.

The Republicans' indebtedness raised some potentially ticklish problems when they considered a photo ID requriment for new voters. Apparently, the bill that contained the proposal is effectively dead. It's not clear how we got to that point and whether Amish issues figured in.

But now the ABJ reports that the changes to Medicaid in the recent budget require the Amish to register for Medicaid to receive subsidized care they have received for years. The Amish apparently object to Medicaid on religious grounds (much of the Amish faith revolves around the community taking care of itself.) So they are left in a bind.

From the ABJ story it appears that the General Assembly actually removed a religious exemption. How the change saves Ohio money is not clear, but much of Medicaid "reform" in the last budget cycle was about reducing rolls.

Once again we will have to see if the Amish receive their own exemption. If not, an opportunity opens for Democrats.

*SIDEBAR. Much of the handwringing over Bush's supposedly stolen victory goes like this: "acknowledged problem, acknowledged problem, acknowledged problem, exit poll discrepency, it must have been stolen, the end." A number of factors on the other side are not discussed like, for instance, the Amish. The represent a new voting bloc, one that is centered in areas not traditional frequented by exit pollsters. Furthermore their insularity makes them less likely to talk to pollsters. Since much of the scientific evaluation of the exit poll discrepency focuses on refusals (see, e.g., Mystery Pollster's meta-exit poll page), the Amish variable has to be part of the discussion.