Medicaid Expansion Woes


Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare was supposed to insure those Americans without healthcare insurance. It was not supposed to take privately-insured patients and add them to the taxpayer’s burden.

But that’s exactly what’s happening in many states that have expanded their Medicaid rolls under ObamaCare. The best example is Louisiana.

Chris Jacobs, writing in The Wall Street Journal, says the trouble started in 2016 when Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards was elected. Edwards immediately pushed through a bill accepting the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, which increases the eligibility of able-bodied single adults up to 138% of the federal poverty limit.

But the expansion didn’t stop there. An audit released last year exposed ineligible Medicaid beneficiaries, including at least 1,672 people who made more than $100,000 on their Medicaid rolls.

But the real story is the number of people who have dropped their previously held private insurance coverage to accept the government-paid Medicaid. The Louisiana Department of Health estimates between 3,000 and 5,000 people per month drop their private insurance and enroll in Medicaid. This figure is conservative because it doesn’t count those who enrolled in Medicaid first, and then dropped private coverage.

The Health Department’s internal spreadsheet information comports with other coverage estimates. A survey by Louisiana state University researchers found that, from 2015-17, enrollment in private insurance fell precipitously among low-income Louisiana residents eligible for Medicaid under the expansion. The number of people covered by private health insurance declined by tens of thousands, even as Medicaid enrollment skyrocketed by more than 141,000.

ObamaCare was never sold to the American people as a way to take people off private insurance and put them on government insurance. But that may have been the intention all along. In 2007, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, an architect of ObamaCare, concluded that some coverage expansions would see rates of “crowd-out” – government programs squeezing out private insurance – approaching 60%. Eight years later, Louisiana’s Legislative Fiscal Office estimated that crowd-out would cost taxpayers between $900 million and $1.3 billion over five years. In reality, Medicaid expansion has vastly exceeded these initial projections so the true cost is undoubtedly higher.

Jacobs says the impact of this situation on a national level is staggering. Estimates suggest that your federal government is spending billions annually funding Medicaid for people who previously held private insurance.

Montana officials recently released a study boasting of 8,700 workers who would have employer-sponsored coverage but for Medicaid expansion, claiming that expansion provided “cost savings to businesses” of up to $114 million. Jacobs says, “Only in a bureaucrat’s mind would more government spending, taxes and government dependency represent ‘cost savings.’”

This debacle in Louisiana, Montana, and other states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare should be a warning to those who have resisted the change. This is just another attempt by Progressives to place all Americans under the control and dependency of the federal government for all their healthcare.

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