Deroy Murdock: New research predicts that ObamaCare will swell America's Medicaid population by nearly 16 million individuals. Between 2010 and 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, this single provision would increase state outlays by $33 billion and accelerates federal spending by $345 billion.
New research predicts that ObamaCare will swell America's Medicaid population by nearly 16 million individuals. This proposed legislation would welcome nearly one in five Americans into government-run medical welfare. Between 2010 and 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimates, this single provision would increase state outlays by $33 billion and accelerates federal spending by $345 billion.
Interestingly enough, when the Heritage Foundation documented how Medicaid populations would grow in all 50 states, this phenomenon was most pronounced in Nevada and Montana, the respective homes of Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, the Senate's two loudest ObamaCare advocates.
Heritage scholar Ed Haislmaier inspected June 2008's Medicaid-population data -- the latest available -- in his paper titled "Does ObamaCare Turn Your State into a Medicaid Monster?" ObamaCare would invite childless, non-elderly adults into Medicaid for the first time and extend benefits to those earning 133 percent of the federal poverty line: $29,326 for families of four, or $14,403 for individuals.
ObamaCare's parameters would boost the average state's Medicaid-eligible population by 36.6 percent. Americans on Medicaid would jump 15.9 million -- from 43.5 million to 59.4 million. The 14.5 percent on the nation on Medicaid today would climb to 19.9 percent.
Meanwhile, Nevada's 188,885 on Medicaid would swell by 155,000 eligible to 343,885, an 82.1 percent increase.
"The Medicaid expansion that Reid is ushering through the Senate as a component of ObamaCare would impose an unfunded mandate on Nevada that likely would require yet another round of tax hikes," says Geoffrey Lawrence, the Nevada Policy Research Institute's fiscal policy analyst. "The proposed 82.1 percent expansion in Nevada's Medicaid-eligible individuals could require more than $1 billion annually in additional expenditures. Those funds would come out of new taxes on businesses and individuals that would impede job creation."
In Baucus' Montana, the Medicaid populace would zoom 80.7 percent, from 78,068 today to 63,000 post-ObamaCare, totaling 141,068.
"Montana is one of the fortunate few states to be running a surplus of about $350 (million) to $400 million," Montana Policy Institute president Carl Graham tells me. "That could be wiped out, though, if the 80 percent increase in Medicaid eligibility identified by Heritage's study resulted in a proportionate, or $372 million, increase in state-funded Medicaid expenditures."
This Reid-Baucus effect should worry potentially vulnerable Democratic senators. Their constituents most likely will howl if they support a massive Medicaid expansion that hammers state and federal finances:
- Amid New York's $3.1 billion deficit, Kirsten Gillibrand might reconsider endorsing a measure that would boost her state's Medicaid cohort 20 percent -- or 829,000 -- from 4,139,582 to 4,968,582.
- Blanche Lincoln, already nervous about ObamaCare, would watch Arkansas' Medicaid populace grow 39.8 percent -- or 194,000 -- from 487,538 to 681,538.
- Kent Conrad's North Dakota constituents may grill him about legislation that would push Medicaid recipients 50.1 percent higher, from 51,890 -- plus 26,000 -- to 77,890.
- Will Florida's Bill Nelson enjoy discussing ObamaCare's 1,162,000 new Medicaid beneficiaries -- from 2,151,686 to 3,313,686 -- a 54-percent hike?
- Can Michael Bennett defend legislation that would boost Colorado's Medicaid population 70 percent -- or 285,000 -- from 407,160 to 692,160?
- Barbara Boxer's re-election seems secure. Still, Californians might marvel that the Reid-Baucus effect would hike Golden State Medicaid recipients by 2,235,000 -- or 34.3 percent -- from 6,524,154 to 8,759,154.
As Haislmaier told the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee on Tuesday, "The effects of any new federal requirement to expand Medicaid eligibility up the income scale will be not only to impose new costs on state taxpayers, but also to draw more, younger, healthier individuals out of the private insurance pool in which small employers participate. In general, that will make private coverage more expensive for small businesses and their workers."
Haislmaier also noted that "expanding Medicaid eligibility to more lower-income workers, particularly those without dependent children, will have a destabilizing effect on the small employer health insurance market."
Higher spending, tax hikes, costlier health coverage, and insurance-industry instability. With a "cure" like this, who needs disease?
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.