October 20, 2013

Eyes on Ohio: Myths of Medicaid Expansion

Filed under: Economy,Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:29 pm

In advance of tomorrow’s State of Ohio Controlling Board meeting, when its members decide whether they will allow Ohio Governor John Kasich to bully them into allowing an expansion of Medicaid (pending certain court challenges) despite the Ohio Legislature’s firm rejection of the idea, I am relaying portions of “Medicaid Expansion Myths” sent to me by State Representative Ron Young’s office:

In an effort to win public support, a number of myths have been perpetrated regarding Medicaid expansion. By contrasting some of these myths with reality I believe a clearer portrait of the effects of Medicaid expansion can be seen.

MYTH #1: “Medicaid offers good health care and expanding Medicaid will save countless lives.”

REALITY: The health outcomes for those our government places on Medicaid are poor and the best research supports this statement.

MYTH #2: “If we don’t expand Medicaid Ohio will lose federal tax dollars that are earmarked for us. It would be foolish of Ohio to turn down all these free federal dollars.”

REALITY: There are no federal Medicaid dollars earmarked for Ohio and it is not free money. There is no pot of gold with Ohio’s name on it in Washington waiting to be dispersed the day we expand Medicaid. Most of the money we would receive from the federal government by expanding Medicaid would simply increase the national debt.

MYTH #3: “The federal government has made some great promises to Ohio in the form of special dollar matches if we expand our Medicaid program. The federal government funds about 62% of Ohio’s current Medicaid program. For the expanded program they have promised to pay 100% of the cost of the
program for 3 years and 90% of the cost thereafter. A promise from our federal government is rock solid. They have to live up to their promises; we should trust them and take the deal.”

REALITY: There are no iron clad guarantees in any of the promises offered by the federal government. The federal government can change the Medicaid match amount at any time. To accept Medicaid expansion means Ohio is trusting its financial future to a government that is deeply in debt and addicted to over spending.

MYTH 4: “If the expansion program doesn’t work then we’ll just shut it down and walk away.”

REALITY: We could probably argue all day about how Health and Human Services, the courts, a future Governor, a future President, a future Secretary of Health and Human Services, etc., might interpret the law. Most of the “experts” seem to agree that once a state accepts the federal offer and expands Medicaid there is no easy withdraw from the expansion portions of the program. However, I believe the legal argument is a moot point. The reality is that Ohio would simply not drop hundreds of thousands of voting citizens from a Medicaid program. We do not have the political will to do such a thing.

MYTH 5: “We will use the expansion of Medicaid as an opportunity to reform the program.”

REALITY: It defies logic to expand a government program that needs to be reformed. If we can meaningfully reform Medicaid we should start with the existing program. After the reforms are in place and operating effectively then, and only then, should we consider expansion.

CONCLUSION: Regardless of the sweeping rhetoric and marketing techniques used by those that support Medicaid expansion the science to support claims of significant improvements in public health are not supported by the facts. How many lives and families could be saved by leaving these billions of dollars in the private sector to create jobs and expand our economy, as opposed to burdening the nation with more debt and bigger government in order to expand a very questionable, if not failed, government program?

Ron Young
State Representative | District 61


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