Entitlement programs in general spend tomorrow’s money on payments today — in essence, picking the pockets of our children and grandchildren for our own benefit. Here in Minnesota, the state takes that more literally. The NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities reports that families who qualified for MNsure’s Medicaid program are finding out that they’re getting coverage for free now, but leaving their children with tax liens that run into the tens of thousands of dollars:

Despite owning land and homes, their income and ages made them eligible for Medical Assistance — Minnesota’s version of Medicaid. They were told his monthly premium would be zero.

“Getting it for nothing did not sit well,” Rayburn said.

Then his friend Scott Killerud said he read on a mailer that it was too good to be true. Anyone over 55 on the low-income plan who owns property will pay. Eventually.

The state is picking up the tab now. But their children will have to pick up the tab after they die, in the form of liens.

Rick asked the Minnesota Department of Human Services what his kids would owe. “Called them up and they were more than happy to tell me we owed them more than $30 thousand,” Rayburn said.

This provision exists to prevent another distortion in the system — keeping the very wealthy with low traditional income from becoming free riders on an entitlement program. Those who have significant assets (especially real estate) would eventually need to reimburse the state for its Medicaid costs, even if their income levels were low enough to qualify for the free coverage. That clause was intended to keep millionaires living off of capital rather than income from gaming the system and eating up resources intended for the truly needy. Unfortunately, that’s not working very well either, as the Center of the American Experiment reported three weeks ago.

The problem for many Minnesotans is that they fall into the same trap, even though they hardly qualify as wealthy. In fact, the state baited the trap for them through MNsure, steering them toward Minnesota’s Medicaid plan on the basis of their income — but without properly notifying them of the consequences for their estates. They have been defrauded into believing that they could qualify for low-cost or no-cost coverage, when in fact they have traded their homes and their children’s credit for coverage that most of them have barely used, if at all. If any other entity other than government conducted this kind of scheme, the Federal Trade Commission would fine them into bankruptcy for bait-and-switch practices, and district attorneys might prepare indictments for fraud.

However, let’s not pretend that ObamaCare, Medicaid, and Medicare don’t already do exactly what we see here from KARE11. Those programs promise coverage that we cannot possibly fund in real time, which is one reason why our national debt has skyrocketed above 100% of GDP in the past several years. We are placing liens on the backs of our children, grandchildren, and even more distant generations in order to make ourselves feel good about our own generosity to ourselves. The only difference between that and what MNsure has done to its Medical Assistance customers is that it’s easier to pretend with the rest of the entitlements.