Governor: “Nothing is not an option” for Medicaid expansion in Utah
posted at 9:01 pm on January 23, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
On Wednesday, the Obama administration announced that 6.3 million people had been deemed eligible to join the Medicaid rolls in the first three months of ObamaCare, but how much of that jump is due to the expanded qualifications in some states, versus how much is due to re-enrollments and/or the “out of the woodwork” people signing up for the first time, is still TBD. Meanwhile, of course, the White House is still ardently pushing for the approximately half of the states still holding out against Medicaid expansion to make the oh-so-tantalizing plunge; newly inaugurated Gov. Terry McAuliffe claims he’s got Medicaid expansion in the bag in Virginia, and it looks like Utah may be next up, reports the Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah will expand Medicaid to cover more of the state’s uninsured, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday.
“Doing nothing … I’ve taken off the table. Doing nothing is not an option,” the Republican governor said at his monthly news conference, broadcast live on KUED Channel 7. …
Herbert did not indicate which of two expansion strategies endorsed by a legislative Health Reform Task Force he prefers — or whether he has another in mind. He said he will make his decision during the legislative session that begins next week. …
But Utah’s Republican leaders fear the possibility of those federal dollars drying up. As a backup plan, House Speaker Becky Lockhart has floated the idea of setting aside a pool of money to cover unforeseen costs.
And Utah’s Republicans are right to be mighty concerned about that eventuality; as Krauthammer reminded us this evening, a recent study out of Oregon kinda-sorta undermined the entire rationale ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, via RCP:
But, to me, it just shows how thoughtless and arrogant was the planning of all of this. People said, you know, the experts sit here in Washington and say, well, let’s expand Medicaid up to a certain level, arbitrary level, without thinking it through. One of the reasons that Medicaid was expanded was because the assumption, it was a reasonable assumption, that it will decrease the amount of visits to the E.R. by the poor. So it would save a lot of money. That was the premise. … Well, there has been a study in Oregon, a randomized study of people who sign into [Medicaid] and outside, that shows that it actually increases the use of the E.R. by 40%. So here they are expanding it, acting on these assumptions. The empirical evidence arrives, I guarantee you nothing will change. It’s going to be a huge economic burden on the government and on the country. But it will not change one iota of how the program is administered, even though it was established on a false and empirically shown to be false premise.