Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Medicaid expansion makes sense

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 9:35 AM

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Too bad John Brummett wrote his Wednesday Democrat-Gazette column behind the pay wall, where it will be read by only a few thousand on-line subscribers and the print subscribers who occasionally read further on-line.

It recapitulates Gov. Mike Beebe's explanation earlier this week of why Medicaid expansion makes sense. It will solve a shortfall in the current Medicaid program, primarily spent on nursing home care and health insurance for children. But that's not the driving reason to do it. The driving reason is that it will plug a coming health insurance gap for low-income working people, who fall in the neverland between private insurance and the coming insurance exchanges to be established under federal health legislation. We illustrated this enormous and punishing gap in our Big Picture feature a few weeks back. David Ramsey followed up the next week.

Beebe said, as has been said here repeatedly, that it makes no sense for ideologues in Arkansas to say the federal budget should be improved by poor Arkansas pushing to the front of the line to give up the relative pittance it will receive to benefit its working poor. That decision will hurt us, but won't contribute anything to the cause of reduced health care. Some of the care will be given by hospitals as indigent or no-pay care anyway. It will be built into the rates of paying customers, both at the hospital and in insurance. "Savings" for anyone are a mirage.

Writes Brummett:

For us to decline the expansion would be to close some of our hospitals, conspicuously deny insurance to our working poor people and perpetuate an unsustainable system of uncompensated care.

And it would accomplish diddly in regard to the federal deficit.

If you’re still opposed, then you’re simply stubborn or I need to go back and shorten some of these words and sentences.

It’s not a matter of ideology, which, in this case, only gets in the way of profound logic.

Logic? Republican majority? We'll soon see if those are mutually exclusive conditions.

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