Smokers shouldn’t get Medicaid or Medicare, says freshman Republican lawmaker who grows tobacco

State Rep. Jonathan Shell of Lancaster, a young Republican who grows tobacco, is against a statewide smoking ban. No surprise there, but how about this: He also says people who use tobacco should’t be able to get Medicaid benefits.

“As I don’t think we have should have a smoking ban, I also think if you’re going to be smoking, you should have to sign a waiver that you will not get onto Medicaid or Medicare … so the taxpayers [don’t] have to end up forking over those dollars because you made the wrong decision to smoke and put those carcinogens into your body,” Shell told Ryan Alessi on cn|2‘s “Pure Politics.”

Shell, who is in his first term in the House, sponsored legislation this year to require drug testing for anyone who applies for government benefits such as Medicaid or food stamps, which he said “should be a last resort.” His predecessor, Republican Lonnie Napier of Lancaster, was a leading advocate of such legislation.

Most of Alessi’s five-and-a-half minute interview with Shell dealt with the workings of the tobacco industry. He said the free market will determine when he switches from growing tobacco to another crop, and he is already raising vegetables and flowers. He said his free-market and indiviphilosophy makes him oppose a smoking ban.

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