Facts, Not Hate, In Medicaid Debate

MARCH 6, 2013 | by NATHAN BENEFIELD

"A few dying residents won't matter to these people..."  So say supporters of implementing Obamacare in Pennsylvania about our friends at Americans for Prosperity.  AFP launched a new action site, "March Medicaid Campaign" encouraging citizens to connect with lawmakers about the proposed expansion of government health care. 

But rather than spew hate, here are some facts about the push for states to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

A new study from the Mercatus Center points out numerous problems states face by expanding Medicaid. The author, Charles Blahaus, a public trustee for the Social Security and Medicare programs, notes that states are already struggling with Medicaid costs, and must slow the growth of Medicaid spending to balance their budgets.

Moreover, the federal goverment is likely to reduce its payments—which some are claiming is free money— in the future.  Blahaus writes:

Given the current state of federal finances, it is unrealistic to assume that the federal government will make all future Medicaid payments now scheduled under law.

Expanding government health care is bad for both taxpayers and patients, as noted in a new issue brief from the Heritage Foundation.  Indeed, the additional costs to Pennsylvania—even assuming the federal government keeps its promise to foot most of the bill (through new taxes)—greatly exceed the potential savings from reducing "uncompensated care" as the chart below illustrates.

Reducing Medicaid spending isn't needed just so "billionaires can buy another bauble for their wife [sic]."  Rather it is needed as government health insurance provides poor quality care.  Many doctors won't take Medicaid patients, meaning those on Medicaid have longer wait times and often worse health outcomes.

A better way to help families would be to adopt real health care reforms that lower the cost of coverage and put patients in charge of care.  Families should be allowed to shop for the lowest cost insurance anywhere in the country.  Government should stop imposing mandates that drive up insurance prices, or allow individuals to opt out of provisions that make coverage too expensive.  And states should be able to develop their own health care systems free from federal dictates. Such flexibilty has shown to reduce costs and improve the quality of care.



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