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Medicaid expansion has unintended consequences

Medicaid expansion has unintended consequences

Fred Birnbaum
November 20, 2014
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November 20, 2014

Medicaid expansion in Idaho has been presented by its supporters as a “win-win” scenario with federal money replacing state funds and more people receiving medical coverage. Supporters of expansion can’t seem to bring themselves to consider that there might be unintended consequences.

If we bring more able-bodied adults into the medical system, will current participants be displaced or have longer wait times as a result? Even if capacity is added, will it happen quickly enough to offset the added burden placed on the system? Who will pay for that added capacity?

The federal money promised as part of the Medicaid expansion is scheduled to be reduced from 100 percent to 90 percent of the cost of the incremental funding over time. But what happens if federal monies are further squeezed as the reimbursements for Medicare and Medicaid are crimped to pay for the expanded population of recipients?

If you believe that longer wait times and diminished service are not possibilities, consider the case of Walid Khalfallah, a Canadian boy living in British Columbia with a severe spine curvature. He was forced to wait 27 months for surgery, ultimately leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Walid finally got help from the Shriners Hospital in Spokane.

Health Canada is a nationalized, single payer system … think of it as combining Medicare and Medicaid into one entity.

If you add more people to our current medical system either overall costs go up or rationing will occur in the form of increased wait times. According to the Fraser Institute in Canada, the median wait time for treatment after referral from a general practitioner was 18 weeks in 2013, more than double what it had been a decade earlier.

It is already evident that the Affordable Care Act is not reducing overall medical costs, perhaps it is only fitting that the other unintended consequence is longer wait time for treatment if Medicaid is expanded.

See Walid’s story below:

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