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Do not forget: Medicaid expansion is not a free lunch

Do not forget: Medicaid expansion is not a free lunch

Mitch Coffman
August 8, 2014
August 8, 2014

By the time the Obama administration leaves Washington, the accumulated federal debt is projected at $20 trillion. Proof that you cannot spend yourself into prosperity with federal dollars.

So, I was amazed when a report from a couple of institutes said Idaho would “lose” $4.8 billion because we are one of 24 states to date that has not jumped on the Expand Medicaid bandwagon. It is sure to be an issue during the 2015 legislative session.

The story on Medicaid reimbursement notes that between 2013 and 2022 the states not opting for the feds to pick up the tab for added Medicaid participation will be “forgoing” nearly $424 billion in federal Medicaid funds. OK.

Left out of the equation is where the money will come from. It will not come from cuts in federal spending, surplus from a balanced budget (yeah, right!) or any other fiscally sound solution. It will come from overworked printing presses and debt that someone will have to pay for at some point. That someone(s) are taxpayers, in Idaho and the other 49 states.

I would think by now that the myth of “free” federal money has been exposed. But apparently not. Idaho legislators will confront Medicaid expansion in January. Not to beat a dead horse too much here, but they should remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Someone will pay for Medicaid some day. How fair is it to leave it to future generations to pick up the tab for today’s fiscal recklessness?

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