Expanding Medicaid Is a Moral and Fiscal Imperative
Expanding Medicaid is a moral imperative and fiscal imperative
July 24, 2012
The Republican governors who are making noises about not expanding Medicaid are playing pure politics. They don't like Obamacare and have attacked it for two-and-a-half years in the media, Congress, and the courts. But the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and even the biggest partisans should admit that it helps the states and act accordingly.
The Medicaid expansion is a good deal. Just look at the numbers:
- The federal government will shoulder 93 percent of the costs in the first nine years of the expansion and will never pay less than 90 percent in any particular year.
- States can expand coverage to 17 million people by spending only 2.8 percent more than they do today. That's serious bang for the buck.
- States do even better when factoring in the savings on uncompensated care for the uninsured. Analysts estimate that states will save as much as $100 billion.
Expanding Medicaid will provide financial relief to hospitals that disproportionately care for people who are uninsured. Since those families are expected to have coverage in 2014, the law phases out special hospital funding that covers unpaid medical bills. If governors refuse the expansion funds, their hospitals will continue to have high uncompensated care costs—but they'll lose important federal dollars that fill the gap.
The governors that refuse to expand Medicaid also will be denying their economies a much-needed boost. Medicaid is a proven economic stimulus. The federal dollars flow directly into local economies, supporting wages, employment, consumer spending, and state tax revenue.
In the face of the compelling reasons to expand Medicaid, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a leader of the hyperpartisan radical fringe of the Republican Party, has already announced his intent to say no. Apparently Perry just doesn't care that one out of every four Texans is uninsured—the highest percentage of uninsured people of any state. It is unconscionable for Rick Perry to turn down an opportunity to get 1.8 million more people the healthcare they need, especially when the federal government will cover nearly the entire cost.
Expanding Medicaid is a moral and fiscal imperative. Hopefully the governors playing politics with this issue now won't make any final decisions until later—after the November election when they can get back to the business of governing.