During the debates on ObamaCare, Medicaid got little attention. That was a mistake, since enrollment and the cost of treating all those jumping onto the program is surging beyond expectations.
At first, ObamaCare tried to force states to expand eligibility for Medicaid by including childless adults and people with incomes 38% above the poverty line. In 2012, the Supreme Court blocked this attempt, making expansion optional for states.
Two dozen states immediately took the bait, lured by the promise the federal government would pay 100% of costs in the first three years and 90% for the newly eligible on into the future. Several more have joined since.
An analysis by the Associated Press finds that this was short-sighted folly. At least 14 of these states have seen enrollment surge unexpectedly, forcing at least half to increase their cost estimates. And we’re not talking about a few percentage points.
• In Kentucky, more than twice as many signed up for Medicaid than the state had projected. That’s forced Kentucky to more than double its projected Medicaid costs for 2017.
• In California, almost 2.3 million enrolled — nearly triple what the state planned on. Today, 1 in 3 Californians are on Medicaid.
• In Ohio, Medicaid costs more than doubled after Republican Gov. John Kasich decided to expand the program, and Michigan’s shot up 50%, the AP reports.
Overall, Medicaid rolls climbed a stunning 28% in these expansion states.
At the same time, these new enrollees are costing far more to treat than expected.
Instead of costing slightly less than those currently on the program, new enrollees’ health costs were 19% higher, a government report found.
For the left, none of this really matters, since the goal all along has been to get as many people dependent on government for health care as possible. Which is why the Obama administration is busy putting increasing pressure on the holdout states to get in line.
For those who thought expanding Medicaid would save states money, these developments should be deeply troubling.
Medicaid is already the single biggest program on state budgets, and its explosive growth has started to crowd out basic needs like education. This will only get worse as the full effects of ObamaCare’s Medicaid plan emerge.
Incredibly, despite these warning signs, even some Republicans who until now had resisted Medicaid’s expansion are going wobbly.
In April, Montana’s Republican-controlled legislature approved Medicaid expansion. They’re waiting on the feds to approve some waivers to the program before it can take effect.
Utah is looking for a way to do the same.
To some degree, you can excuse those Republicans who decided to boost their Medicaid rolls for not knowing exactly what they were getting themselves into. But any governor who does so now, in the face of this hard evidence, is being irresponsible.
They’re also taking the nation a big step closer to the left’s ultimate goal of a single-payer system.