Edwards' Medicaid Expansion is bad fiscal and health care policy

If hosting President Obama in Baton Rouge and compounding the state's fiscal challenges by expanding Medicaid are Governor John Bel Edwards' ideas for bringing Louisianans together, he's sadly mistaken.

"Governor Edwards is beginning his tenure by making a critical mistake on the very important issue of health care," Republican Party Executive Director Jason Dore said today.

"Obamacare's Medicaid expansion will cost the state more than $1.3 billion over the next decade, based on 2015 DHH estimates, crowding out funding for other priorities like higher education. Expanding Medicaid will force 224,000 Louisianians from private insurance to Medicaid rolls," he said.

Medicaid expansion prioritizes coverage of able-bodied adults over individuals with disabilities. Medicaid is a program that was never meant to cover able-bodied individuals to this scale. Therefore it has become an inefficient program that delivers poor health outcomes. 

If Obamacare is expanded, it means that 40 percent of Louisiana’s population would be put on a Medicaid program that is antiquated, poorly run, and delivers inferior health care. The Oregon Experiment found that, contrary to the president’s promises, throwing more people on Medicaid does not improve physical health outcomes and does not decrease their use of emergency rooms. Expanding Medicaid to cover these households instead increases their emergency-room use by 40 percent.

"We can't trust the federal government," Dore said. "Funding for Obamacare is unstable. The payment for Obamacare continues to unravel, which will encourage cost-shifting to states, putting Louisiana on the hook for additional spending. The instability could threaten the state’s ability to fund education and transportation and could force future tax increases on Louisianians," he said.

Current assumptions of total cost to the state are based on the assumption that the federal government keeps its promise regarding the enhanced federal match rate (FMAP). With a over $18 trillion debt, promises of more federal money are a risky bet. Louisianians know from experience that federal funding can’t be counted on.

"A recent report from the Congressional Research Service confirms what many policy experts have known for some time: States that reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion aren’t sending that Medicaid expansion money to other states. Instead, that money is simply never spent. ...As the Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly pointed out, states that reject Obamacare expansion are reducing federal spending. The Obama administration confirmed that rejected Medicaid expansion saved federal taxpayers at least $26 billion in 2014. If those states continue to reject Obamacare, federal taxpayers will spend $368 billion less on Medicaid expansion through 2022," Dore said.

 

Posted on January 12, 2016 .