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Medicaid expansion, not higher speed limit, needs reconsideration

Medicaid expansion, not higher speed limit, needs reconsideration

Parrish Miller
July 8, 2014

Idaho's freeways will not be upgrading to an 80 mph speed limit just yet. Despite receiving legislative approval during the last session, concerns raised by AAA and the Idaho Trucking Association have prompted the Idaho Transportation Department to reevaluate its plans.

Whether this delay frustrates you (as it does me) likely depends on your views on the current speed limits and the inconvenience they impose. It's interesting to note, though, that Utah's 80 mph speed limits haven't been a problem, Texas actually has an 85 mph speed limit on one highway and Wyoming is set to join the 80 mph club this year as well.

What I find particularly striking about this situation is how a division of Idaho's state government is more than willing to delay the implementation of a change that will grant individuals greater freedom and which might reduce the amount of revenue brought in by fines and tickets, even as divisions within that same government are rushing to expand Medicaid.

While the "dangers" of higher speed limits are largely imaginary—indeed, studies show that higher speed limits can make driving safer--the dangers of expanding Medicaid are anything but. Oregon's pre-Obamacare expansion of Medicaid "generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes" despite its sky-high price tag.

Arkansas' so-called "private option" Medicaid expansion is now regarded (by some legislators, at least) as a "money pit" that "should be repealed." Two Arkansas state legislators even went so far as to opine that "if running over budget, making access worse for the most vulnerable and trapping hundreds of thousands of able-bodied adults into a system of government dependency is success, we hate to imagine what failure looks like."

If Idaho can take a break to reevaluate increasing speed limits—even when the evidence suggests doing so is the right decision—certainly we can take some additional time to examine the unbroken string of failures that is Medicaid expansion and to find some state-based, free-market alternatives to this government boondoggle. I'm all for faster speed limits on our roads, but let's give government a great big “yield” sign that lets the free market go first. That's a common-sense safety precaution we should all endorse.

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