Governor Kasich and his acolytes are eager to implement the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Ohio, as OCR readers are no doubt aware. What you may not realize is how many arguments against expansion have been ignored by the Kasich Administration, the Ohio Republican Party, and the state’s legacy media.
OCR contributors have already done a good job detailing philosophical arguments against Medicaid expansion, but since I’ve been covering the issue for the past year I wanted to help summarize the opposing facts.
While there’s no coherent argument for expanding Medicaid, there are many contenders for “most embarrassing talking point.”
Two examples include the governor’s assurance that Obamacare Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with Obamacare, and the Columbus Dispatch-approved narrative that adding hundreds of thousands of Ohioans to the Medicaid rolls will save taxpayers money.
This is the sort of nonsense that Party faithful are chastising and ridiculing conservatives for speaking out against. Why are they so desperate to silence criticism from the right?
Perhaps it’s because the arguments for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion are full of holes. Let’s examine three of them up close.
Kasich Talking Point: Obamacare Medicaid expansion will make poor Ohioans healthier
Governor Kasich and other Obamacare advocates insist that expanding Medicaid will help Ohio’s poor by providing them access to better health care. This claim is typically made as a blanket assertion that “Medicaid coverage” means “quality health care,” with no supporting evidence save assurances from Kasich that God wants the General Assembly to spend more taxpayer money.
Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) studies of Medicaid expansions in Arizona, Delaware, Maine, and Oregon showed that in each state, the percentage of the population without health insurance remained the same while many citizens shifted from private health insurance into Medicaid.
As of 2011, 28 percent of Ohio’s office-based physicians were already refusing to treat new Medicaid patients.
A 2010 University of Virginia review of nearly 900,000 surgical procedures found that Medicaid patients were 13 percent more likely to die than patients with no health insurance.
A study released May 1 in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Oregon Medicaid coverage “generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years.”
In short, the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would push hundreds of thousands of able-bodied childless adults under the age of 65 into a government program whose results are already mixed at best.
Kasich Talking Point: Obamacare Medicaid expansion will help Ohio hospitals and boost Ohio’s economy
The Kasich Administration and hospital lobbyists paint a picture of two future Ohios. In one Ohio, the state adopts the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and billions of job-creating federal dollars rain down from the sky; in the other, the state’s failure to expand Medicaid stifles the economy and sends hospitals around the state into bankruptcy.
How do these portrayals compare to reality?
A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in July found that cutting able-bodied childless adults from Medicaid in Tennessee “resulted in an approximately 6 percent increase in employment over the following two years,” as Tennesseans sought jobs to make up for lost entitlement benefits.
This spring, the Obama Administration proposed delaying Obamacare’s cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments that hospitals currently receive to offset the cost of providing care to the uninsured.
Even with no DSH payments or other charity care offsets, most Ohio Hospital Association members would have recorded millions in net income during their latest fiscal years.
The Ohio Hospital Association executives pleading for more taxpayer money are paid hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars per year.
Simply put, Kasich is telling a tale of two Ohios which dramatically inflates the benefits of expanding Medicaid while downplaying the Obamacare expansion’s many flaws.
Kasich Talking Point: “Ohio’s” Obamacare funding will be spent elsewhere if Ohio rejects Medicaid expansion
From the day he introduced his budget plan for fiscal years 2014-2015, Gov. Kasich has been arguing that implementing the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would prevent “leaving Ohioans’ federal tax dollars on the table,” (02/04/2013 budget summary) and stop DC from taking “$13 billion of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars out of our state” (02/06/2013 RedState post).
This is an obviously untrue line of argument that Ohio news reporters have nonetheless repeated time and again without question.
Not only would Ohio’s rejection of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion prevent billions per year in new spending from a national government already $16.7 trillion in debt, it would prevent new state Medicaid spending exceeding $500 million per year by 2021.
Cato Institute Health Policy Director Michael Cannon, one of America’s leading health policy experts, refuted the governor’s funding rhetoric in March testimony before the Ohio House.
A January Health Policy Institute of Ohio (HPIO) study framed Obamacare spending as free money, but not even HPIO is willing to support Kasich’s claims that other states will get “Ohio’s” funding if Ohio rejects the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the current chair of the Republican Governors Association, debunked Kasich’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding arguments in a July 23 editorial.
All Obamacare funding for states that expand Medicaid will be new federal spending. Gov. Kasich’s narrative about “Ohio’s” money is false – especially when he attempts to strengthen his case by painting the entire $13 billion in projected expansion funding as “Ohio’s tax dollars.”
There is no convincing evidence that Medicaid expansion will make poor Ohioans healthier, provoke an economic boom while preventing a bust, or keep “Ohio’s” money in Ohio.
To the contrary, each of Governor Kasich’s talking points for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion have been thoroughly debunked by a combination of public record and expert testimony.
Jason Hart is a lifelong Ohioan and a 2005 graduate of Miami University. Communications director for a small conservative news outlet, Jason resides in central Ohio and is an occasional contributor at FreedomWorks, RedState, WatchdogWire, Rare, and elsewhere. You can find Jason on Twitter @jasonahart
All opinions expressed belong solely to their authors and may not be construed as the opinions of other writers or of OCR staff.
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