Medicaid: Renew and fund it now

Democratic leaders say they don’t really want to kill Medicaid, and I believe them. However, their reckless actions show they are willing to imperil health coverage for 700,000-plus current Medicaid recipients (not to mention scaring these people to death) simply to make a partisan political statement about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).
Each state has the option, but not the obligation, to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare.Democrats want to add 300,000 essentially able-bodied “working poor” to the Medicaid rolls, which would put around one million Mississippians (1 in 3) on the program. Legislative Republicans are dubious about our state’s long-term ability to afford this massive expansion, and agree any final decision is at best premature.
The truth is that even without expansion, mandatory Obamacare regulations will cost Mississippi as much as $436 million more before 2020, and a full expansion likely would cost over $1 billion. Slick, left-leaning advocacy groups tout extravagant claims that Medicaid expansion would create thousands of new jobs and bring prosperity to Mississippi. The reality is, as our senior state economist says, “the state will not see a positive return on its investment with Medicaid expansion. It should not be considered economic development.”
Many of our state’s doctors are skeptical about Medicaid expansion. Recently, the president of the State Medical Association said “physicians fear that an expansion of Medicaid may not be financially sustainable and will impose on the state unintended consequences that will weaken provider capacity, which is inadequate now.”
Doctors understand the goal should be to make citizens healthier. Yet a recent study from Oregon reveals no evidence that Medicaid coverage actually improves the physical health of the very population targeted for expansion (low-income adults aged 19-64). Statistically, the generally “working poor” are no healthier with Medicaid coverage than they were when uninsured! Given this looming specter of lackluster performance, why would any state rush to expand?

Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden
Meridian Star
5/26/13