In the Silver City (New Mexico) Sun-News (8/27/12), former New Mexico Lt. Governor (under Bill Richardson) Diane Denish defends the politically correct, but medically and fiscally ludicrous party line regarding Medicaid expansion. A reality check is required.
It is true that “having 25% of our population uninsured is a huge cost.” Before we discuss where all that money is going, note that at least one quarter of all the uninsured lack coverage BY CHOICE. The GAO 2010 Report on Uninsured Americans shows that 12-15 million qualify for government assistance but refuse to sign up. Will expanding Medicaid eligibility magically make them change their minds?
Next, Denish plays the ever-popular “jobs” card, writing that expanding Medicaid will bring billions of free federal dollars into New Mexico as well as any other state that listens to the Siren song from Washington. Those dollars could then be used, according to Denish, to “sustain our doctors and other health-care providers” and to create thousands of new jobs.
First, those free federal dollars are anything but free. They get added to the deficit, an ever expanding burden we are passing on for our children to pay. Second, those dollars do not go to doctors and nurses. Indeed, provider reimbursements are reduced (again). All those billions of freshly minted dollar bills go to pay for new bureaucrats, regulators, overseers, managers, compliance officers, and Directors. Money will be spent on new jobs in healthcare alright, just not for the practice of medicine or nursing. There won’t even be dollars to “sustain” the doctors and nurses we now have.
More and more doctors are refusing to see Medicare patients. With what the government pays providers, they simply cannot afford to do so. The same thing is happening in Medicaid, as dollars are taken from delivery of care and given to ‘deliver’ more and more … red tape.
(In the 19th century, documents drawn up by lawyers were tied together with red tape in order to show everyone that the documents were official.)
Denish mentions our rising health insurance premiums, writing (correctly), “as premiums go up, more businesses trim back on offering health insurance” to their employees. Denish and Congress neatly avoid the key questions : why have health insurance premiums risen 20-30% since ACA was passed and where is the money going? (It sure as hell is not going to care providers!)
Consider the testimony before Congress of large businesses such as Caterpillar, Deere, AT&T, Medtronik, etc. They did their fiscal due diligence, which Congress did not. ACA expansion of the regulatory bureaucracy increases their costs by up to 25% per year. These bureaucratic (nonproductive) costs must be paid somehow. So insurance premiums rise to cover this cost-of-expanded-government, not the cost-of-less-and-less-care.
Denish and sanctimonious Washington are the ones “playing politics with the health needs” of We The Patients. Our healthcare so-called ‘system’ is indeed critically ill. ACA and expansion of Medicaid will hasten the patient’s demise .
Postscript. Denish also wrote about caring for the “poorest among us.” She carefully avoided pointing out that ACA-mandated expansion of Medicaid would include people up to 400% above the poverty line. That translates to a family of four making over $88,000 per year.
One look at a US income distribution chart tells us that such Medicaid expansion would include 79% of the entire nation. Do you really want to extend a nanny-state, government dependency to over three quarters of the US? I don’t.