Millions More on Medicaid? Great! Or Not

7 Jan

Mona Charen, in a recent column titled “Welcome to Medicaid for All”, explains why the millions of additional Medicaid enrollees under the Obamacare law just isn’t such a great thing.  I have excerpted some main points below.  The full column can be found at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/mona-charen/welcome-to-medicaid-for-all.html

Bolding and brackets are mine.

[Excerpt begins]

The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has found what he thinks is a bright spot amid the gloomy Obamacare news. . . .  Klein reports that Obamacare’s “biggest success” is that 4 million new enrollees signed up for Medicaid as of November. . . .

Sorry, but the expansion of dependence on government is never cause for rejoicing. Conservatives acknowledge that a safety net is necessary for the poor, but we regard only the number of people leaving a government program like Medicaid as cause for celebration, not adding to the numbers who receive benefits. Klein is hardly alone. . . .

Why is it terrible news that millions more people are signing up for Medicaid? . . . [A] few of the reasons:

Medicaid is one of the entitlements whose growth endangers national solvency. . . .  The growth in health care spending was one of the rationales for Obamacare, but expanding Medicaid spending simply contributes to the problem.

Medicaid is plagued by fraud. . . .  [examples follow]

Medicaid is not just a program for the poor; it’s a poor program. Reimbursement rates for doctors, dentists and other professionals are so low under Medicaid that enrollees have difficulty finding care.

Having health insurance does not equate with having medical care. . . . The startling news is that Medicaid enrollees fare worse on health outcomes than those with no health coverage at all.

Expanding Medicaid was sold on the premise that uninsured people were driving up health care costs by waiting until they were very sick before seeking care and thus overburdening emergency rooms. If the near poor had Medicaid coverage, the argument went, they would see doctors before their conditions became critical and required expensive emergency room treatment.

But research on Oregon’s program, published in the journal Science, found . . . that Medicaid patients used emergency rooms 40 percent more than similarly situated adults who lacked health insurance. . . .

An earlier analysis of Oregon’s data found that having a Medicaid card did not improve health outcomes. . . .

Medicaid is a poor program because it promises benefits but squeezes provider reimbursement to keep costs down. The result is rationing. The poor are forced to wait in long lines for treatment . . . .  Medicaid is also the model for Obamacare — top-down price-fixing and mandates from Washington.

There are alternatives . . . . Klein’s happy talk notwithstanding, there are no “successes” in Obamacare. Left alone, it will remake the entire health care system in Medicaid’s image.

[End of excerpt]

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