To the editor:
This is in response to the letter "Medicaid expansion would help area" that appeared in the Sept. 29 edition.
The letter paints a rose-colored view of Medicaid expansion. The federal government promises to pay 100 percent of the costs of expansion for three years, declining to 90 percent by 2020. Expecting a federal government more than $16 trillion in debt to live up to this obligation is a stretch. And, they don't tell you that the funding does not cover state administrative expenses, expected to be as high as $12 billion.
Medicaid is an open-ended program with no fixed amount of planned spending. If Ohio opts out of the expansion, those dollars are not spent. So far, 25 states have opted out and have saved U.S. taxpayers $596 billion in the process. With the overwhelming debt of our government, we have a duty to do what we can to minimize it.
Medicaid expansion will hurt those on private insurance. Medicaid pays only 83 cents of every dollar hospitals spend on Medicaid patients. Hospitals can't stay open if they lose money on Medicaid so they transfer costs to private insurers leading to higher premiums for the rest of us. Premiums have already risen in response to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare.) These higher premiums are causing some employers to drop their private insurance coverage or move employees to part time.
The Ohio Hospital Association claims $1.1 billion in charity care for the uninsured, but doesn't break down the percentage that was given to individuals who were eligible for Medicaid but never signed up. A full one-third of Ohioans are eligible and have not enrolled in the program.
Multiple studies show that uninsured patients have better outcomes than those with Medicaid. A study published in the Annals of Surgery summarizes: Medicaid patients' "hospital stays were 42 percent longer and cost 26 percent more. Compared with those without health insurance, Medicaid patients were 13 percent more likely to die, stayed in the hospital for 50 percent longer, and cost 20 percent more."
Medicaid is a bad deal for everyone, including Medicaid participants.