California often leads the nation. California leads the nation with the highest state income tax of 13.3%. The next closest state is Oregon at 9.9%. California also leads the nation in Medicaid spending at $81.9 Billion. New York is a distant second at $62.8 Billion.
It’s true that California has the largest population of any state, comprising 12% of total U.S. population. But California also receives more than 30 percent of all Medicaid expansion spending.
Like most liberal governors, California Governor Jerry Brown chose to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare. When the state agreed to this expansion it predicted enrollment would max out at 910,000 able-bodied adults, according to Josh Archambault, writing in Forbes.
But as of July, 2017, expansion enrollment had reached 3.8 million. Nearly four million able-bodied adults are now receiving free Medicaid, a healthcare system originally intended as a safety net for poor children, seniors, and those with disabilities.
This is having catastrophic consequences for the state and federal taxpayers. Initial projections of the expansion cost were roughly $11.6 billion in the first three years. The actual cost during those same three years grew $43.7 billion. That’s nearly four times original projections. Costs per enrollee are also rising from just over $4,500 in 2014 to over $5,800 in 2015 – a massive 30% rise in a single year.
The Hidden Cost
Archambault says there is an even greater cost than the billions of taxpayers’ dollars being spent. He says,
“The untold story of expansion is that with every additional able-bodied adult who receives Medicaid, California gets further and further away from its goal of helping the truly needy – because every able-bodied adult pushes the most vulnerable on traditional Medicaid further away from the care and services they need. As California adds more able-bodied adults to its Medicaid expansion rolls, it siphons away resources for its truly needy citizens.”
The growth of California Medicaid spending has not gone unnoticed. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, sent a letter to Governor Brown requesting information and expressing concern about the rapid spending surge the state is experiencing. He is looking for explanations for why the states’ Medicaid enrollment has risen so much past projected rates and what steps are being taken to slow enrollment and curb spending. It is not clear what response he got from Governor Brown.
It is time to move able-bodied adults off the rolls of Medicaid and onto the rolls of the work force. This will not only provide them with jobs but with better healthcare. With the economy growing again under President Trump after 8 years of stagnation under President Obama, many new jobs should be created. That will be good for them and for state and federal taxpayers.