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    Republicans Are Now Medicaid's Biggest Boosters


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    Republicans Are Now Medicaid's Biggest Boosters

    Post  sinister_midget on Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:25 pm

    Republicans Are Now Medicaid's Biggest Boosters

    Of course they are. That's a big part of why they won't vote on the repeal bill that they passed last year when they knew it would be vetoed. They're in charge of it now. So the name is bad, but everything about the law is good to them.

    One of the more depressing aspects of the failed ObamaCare replacement bill was that it exposed how many Republicans have become ardent defenders of Medicaid — a "poverty" program that is slowly taking over health care.

    There are few federal programs as poorly designed as Medicaid. Its open-ended funding mechanism — where the federal government matches spending by the states — encourages waste. Since 2000, Medicaid spending climbed 172%, and the Government Accountability Office has listed Medicaid as a "high risk" for fraud and abuse.

    At the same time, Medicaid's low reimbursement rates — it pays doctors about half what private insurance pays — and heavy paperwork burdens have created shortages of doctors willing to see Medicaid patients.

    Instead of reforming Medicaid, ObamaCare simply added millions to its rolls, aggravating its inherent flaws. ObamaCare promised states that it would cover almost all the costs of newly eligible enrollees, if they agreed to expand eligibility to 138% of the poverty line. So far, 31 states have taken the bait. Medicaid spending, as a result, spiked in 2014 and is on track to climb more than 67% over the next decade.

    But giving someone a Medicaid card isn't the same as giving them access to health care. Doctor shortages, for example, caused a surge in ER visits after the Medicaid expansion took place, driving per enrollee costs 49% higher than expected.

    You'd think, then, that Republicans would have been eager to hit the brakes on this runaway Medicaid train.

    Instead, the proposed cuts in the American Health Care Act prompted a chorus of complaints from Republican governors and lawmakers.

    Even before the House had released its bill, four GOP senators announced that they wouldn't back any plan that cut Medicaid. Several House members refused to support the bill because of its Medicaid cuts.

    Ohio Gov. John Kasich said it "unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug addicted, mentally ill, and working poor." Republican governors from Michigan, Florida and Indiana also opposed any cuts. So, too, did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who while running for president proposed repealing ObamaCare "in its entirety," but now says "you can't cut Medicaid."

    This week, the New York Times credited Medicaid as having "played a major, though far less appreciated, role in last week's collapse of the Republican drive to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act," noting that while the Freedom Caucus was being blamed for the bill's demise "the objections of moderate Republicans to the deep cuts in Medicaid also helped doom the Republican bill."

    These Republicans were scared off by the Congressional Budget Office finding that the bill would cut Medicaid spending by $880 billion over the next decade.

    That figure looks imposing, except when you put it in context. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services projects that total Medicaid spending over the next decade — by both federal and state governments — will total $7.3 trillion.

    And the "cuts" aren't cuts in the normal sense of the word, but a reduction in the rate of projected spending increases. In fact, under the GOP plan, the federal government would spend 25% more on Medicaid in 2026 than it did in 2016.

    As we've pointed out in this space, the secret sauce of ObamaCare wasn't the rules, regulations and subsidies for private insurance, but the expansion of Medicaid. Basically, all the gains in coverage among the working-age population under ObamaCare have come from increased enrollment in Medicaid.

    For 50 years, Democrats have slowly and steadily expanded Medicaid to the point where it now covers 74 million people. ObamaCare was, in effect, part of their ongoing effort to achieve socialized medicine on the installment plan.

    And now, ironically enough, the failure of the GOP's ObamaCare repeal plan is encouraging more states to consider expanding Medicaid.

    If Republicans aren't willing to fight this trend — or worse, are now cheering it on — then they've pretty much given up the battle against government-run health care.

    They never were against it (except when they needed votes to get elected to keep it). They were only against the Democrats running it and getting to name it.

    The American Dream is to be Donald Trump.
    -- Barack Hussein Obama

      Current date/time is Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:43 am