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Medicaid expansion is the classic wolf at the door dressed in sheep’s clothing

Medicaid expansion is the classic wolf at the door dressed in sheep’s clothing

Wayne Hoffman
November 18, 2013
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November 18, 2013

There seems to be a lot of new hype within the last few weeks about expanding Medicaid in Idaho. I've seen some op-eds recently, and some of my legislative friends have been exposed to meetings in which the Obamacare sales team—Big Insurance, Big Hospitals, Big Medicine and Big Business—were busy making the pitch using new slogans and catchphrases in order to make policymakers believe expansion of the health care program for the poor is a can't lose proposition.

They don't call it Medicaid expansion anymore. They call it Medicaid redesign. For now. For all we know, next they'll call it iPad Plus, or something else that sounds so good, that we'll want to line up at the nearest electronics store to sign up for it. It's all a ruse to make us believe it's not really the expansion of government-run health care.
But I digress.

Boise State University political science professor David Adler dipped his toe into the Medicaid waters recently, too, calling Medicaid expansion a compassionate policy move. He noted that Ohio's Republican governor, John Kasich, supports Medicaid expansion. Now, I gather from his logic that we're all supposed to put our brains in neutral when we hear a Republican supports it; what could possibly go wrong here? Indeed, everything.

Adler quoted Kasich as he asserted that Medicaid expansion was a Christian act. Said the governor, "When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor."

What you did "for the poor?" How about what you did "to the poor?" In other words, we already know government health care is screwed up. Medicaid was badly broken before Obamacare came along. Medicaid wastes billions of dollars. Access to care is horrendous. More and more doctors are refusing to accept Medicaid patients. The doctors who do take Medicaid complain about being under-reimbursed, about having to deal with the bureaucracy that is Medicaid, about having to deal with patients who clearly are not invested in their own health care because someone else is paying for it.

And that's what we want to expand? Why?

What's more, Medicaid expansion is being billed as a relief to taxpayers here in Idaho, because most of the expansion, we've been promised, will be paid by the federal government.

Last I heard, the federal government has no money. It is broke. It is borrowing and borrowing and digging the debt hole deeper and deeper. The bill will have to be repaid by our kids and grandkids. And even our great grandkids. Tell me, what's so Christian and moral and upstanding about that, about asking future generations to pay the health care costs we incur today?

I find very little either charitable or compassionate, let alone moral, in the expansion of a broken government program.

Finally, states that expanded government health care before Obamacare made it rad and cool have seen worsening health outcomes, not better, among other problems.

I'm sure Adler and Kasich are right that St. Peter will ask a lot of questions when we get to those Pearly Gates. For politicians who expand Medicaid, he might ask why they were willing to treat poor people so badly in funneling them into a nightmare bureaucracy at extraordinary expense instead of giving them access to real solutions and the medical care and attention they really need and deserve.

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