I have strongly opposed Medicaid expansion in Utah for years. Medicaid was designed to help those who are disabled and unable to work and take care of themselves. The best way to protect the most needy is to not dilute the dollars dedicated to their care.
I also knew that the governor’s Healthy Utah plan in 2015, if adopted, would lead to a massive new tax burden on hardworking Utahns, while disincentivizing work for able-bodied adults. This year I again opposed expanding our Medicaid program and will continue to stand up to protect the tax dollars of hardworking Utahns and those unable to care for themselves.
Along with the haphazard implementation of the ACA, the Obama administration assumed that states would expand Medicaid and put themselves in a position that when federal dollars stop flowing, the states will feel compelled to prop up a program that most cannot afford. As it is, Medicaid is eating up more and more of our state budget every year, with no end in sight. As this occurs, it cuts into benefits in other areas such as education and transportation.
Expanding the Medicaid program under Obamacare would make us more dependent on a fiscally irresponsible federal government. Many of us are concerned that 40 percent of the money the state of Utah spends comes from a federal government that borrows 40 percent of its money. This is obviously an unsustainable model and sets us up for unnecessarily difficult choices when the federal government does pull back; not if, but when.
In addition to the fiscal problems with an expansion, Medicaid isn’t ideal and should be used only when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, we are starting to see problems in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs where people who were previously covered under low-cost private insurance have been forced onto Medicaid through the exchanges.
A recent study found that, after adjusting for age, gender, income, geographic region, operation and comorbid conditions, Medicaid patients had nearly twice the chance of dying as those with private insurance, even though their hospital stays were substantially longer and cost over 26 percent more.
Many doctors can’t accept Medicaid patients. The reimbursement rates are so low that they lose money on every single Medicaid patient they see and can’t put themselves in the position of not being able to pay their overhead and staff.
How does pushing people onto a program that is unaffordable, ineffective, and still makes it difficult for them to get treated, help the poor? This was never the right solution to the problem and nothing has changed to make it so.