December 20 2010
We all had a good laugh when the United Federation of Teachers - one of ObamaCare's biggest supporters - applied for and got a waiver from some of the law's requirements. Hundreds of companies, organizations, and unions have now applied for waivers, and UFT is not the only ObamaCare-backing group to be waived, either. (Here's another example: AARP.)
But outside of the blatant hypocrisy of supporting ObamaCare and then being waived, there's really nothing to laugh about. ObamaCare's effects on health care in the U.S. could be disastrous for a variety of groups of people (including medical providers, the poor, and taxpayers, to name a few), but here's one more group that should think twice before jumping on the ObamaCare bandwagon: public school teachers.
As argued in a key summary judgment hearing last week in the multi-state lawsuit against the health reform law, ObamaCare will run up costs for states, possibly pushing them into bankruptcy. States will have increased Medicaid obligations for those already enrolled, and the expansion of Medicaid to enroll millions of new participants will be costly.
So, what does Medicaid have to do with teachers?
Well on average, states spend about 30 percent of their budgets on education (according to the U.S. Census Bureau). Medicaid spending averages in at about 21 percent. So together, education and Medicaid take up about one half of the spending that states do. That is, as of right now.
But enter ObamaCare, and according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, we can expect state spending on Medicaid to increase by a whopping average of 41.4 percent. Here's a helpful graphic from the Heritage Foundation that shows how much each state will hurt. Is your state colored red?
Unless money starts falling from the sky, states will be strapped with real budget problems. I have an aunt and an uncle who are public school teachers, and my boyfriend's parents work in public education too. It's disheartening to hear their stories about teacher layoffs, where often the most energetic, youngest teachers are the first to go. To a certain extent, spending more or less on education doesn't define outcomes for students. But to see state governments forced into wasteful spending on Medicaid - especially when that spending might force further cuts to education budgets - is frustrating.
Medicaid is broken. It won't fix or reform anything to push more people onto the rolls, it will just further burden states and spread resources even thinner. Teachers should think twice before supporting ObamaCare.