Want to Help the Poor? Don’t Expand Medicaid

Yesterday, we talked about why Michigan’s plan to expand Medicaid was a bad deal for taxpayers.

But expansion is a bad deal for patients too. Advocates of expansion make the flawed assumption that giving an individual a government insurance care equates to providing them quality care.  For example, state senate Democrats recently expressed alarm at the decline of enrollment in CHIP and Medicaid, without any discussion of care.

Success should not be defined by the growth of our entitlement programs, rather declining enrollment should be viewed as a positive sign.  This decline reflects, among other things, job growth, with individuals gaining private insurance.  We should celebrate this trend, because it means more patients are able to access higher quality care and reduce dependence on government.

Expanding Medicaid will actually crowd out private insurance, as workers move from private coverage to taxpayer-provided plans, a new study from the Lewin Group looking at New Hampshire found.  This hurts patients—who get lower-quality coverage—but hospitals as well, as Medicaid pays less than private insurance for the same procedures.

Before jumping to expand Medicaid and boost enrollment in a dysfunctional program, Gov. Corbett and lawmakers need to ask if people are really going to be able to access care with Medicaid, especially when many could obtain higher quality care with private coverage.