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October 6 2011

The First Cut is the Deepest

Nicole Kurokawa Neily

Finally, we’re starting to see some actual recommendations on what the Debt Supercommittee should cut. Politico reports that Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) has proposed cutting two of ObamaCare’s more expensive provisions –Medicaid expansion and subsidies to help consumers buy insurance.

From the article: 

Rehberg said now is not the time to expand Medicaid and create a new entitlement of tax subsidies. He likened the provisions to an “expensive vacation home” that the average American wouldn’t buy if it was facing the nation’s deficit problems. 

Rehberg suggests eliminating the law’s expansion of Medicaid to cover Americans up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, as opposed to 100 percent now. He also suggests repealing the law’s refundable tax credits, which would provide assistance on a sliding scale of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. 

Certainly, I’d prefer to see the whole darn ObamaCare bill scrapped – THAT would save a lot of money! – but I like where Rehberg’s head is. 

I’ve written in the past how Medicaid is a suboptimal program that provides poor care – if it can be accessed at all. Why on earth would we want to put more people into a program like that? Sure, they’re “covered” in one sense – which seems to make people feel like they’ve done their patriotic duty and can walk away from the problem. But our poorest and most vulnerable citizens deserve quality health care – and Medicaid is not presently structured in a way to do so. 

In FY2011, the Department of Health and Human Services spent $296,841,000,000 on Medicaid – while recent Census figures show 46.2 million Americans in poverty. If we were to scrap the program altogether, we could give a direct payment of $6,425 to every single person below the poverty line to purchase their own health care. We’d cut out an awful lot of bureaucrats, and individuals could spend the money on a plan – or not, as they saw fit. (After all, it’s really not the government’s business whether you purchase a product or not.) 

If we, as a country, determine that we do want to keep Medicaid – let’s give it a massive overhaul. Try block granting funding to states, so they have more control over who’s in the program, what benefits they receive, and how care is delivered, managed, and measured. 

In addition, I really like the idea of abolishing ObamaCare’s “support” for families to purchase health insurance. All they do is mask the true cost of this program – so that people don’t get upset when they realize that their personal insurance costs have risen under the President’s plan. Getting rid of these subsidies – and that’s what they are, despite calling them “tax credits” – will help demonstrate that the emperor has no clothes. 

Alas, Rep. Rehberg’s plan is unlikely to come to fruition… but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

 
Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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