February 22 2016
One News Now
Though it may not be discussed as often as other issues, one expert says that does not mean Medicaid expansion is something to write off.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that helps some people with limited income and resources cover medical costs.
While it is voluntary based on a Supreme Court ruling, the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, calls for states to expand Medicaid and help more people. The measure has provided federal funding to states that have expanded Medicaid, and while the issue is under discussion in a few states, many others have resisted. (See related map)
One of the arguments against expansion involves the fact that federal funding is only temporary, which means states will soon be on the hook for the entire amount.
President Obama's latest budget plan is offering three years' worth of assistance regardless of when a state expands Medicaid. But according to Hadley Heath Manning, director of health policy at the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), that is only adding to the political pressure against states saying "no" to expansion.
"There is certainly a lot of political pressure, not just from Democrats and liberals who favor the expansion because it's a part of ObamaCare, but there is pressures from interest groups and hospitals who would like to see states expand Medicaid so that they can get a share of that additional business that will come from increasing the number of people with Medicaid," Manning explains. "Oregon famously studied their Medicaid expansion and found that… people in the Medicaid expansion were much more likely to visit emergency rooms."
She finds that telling.
"That tells us that it may be difficult for those patients to get preventive care, as was sort of the premise for expanding Medicaid, and also that those consumers are unfortunately using the least efficient means to get their hands on healthcare services," Manning tells OneNewsNow.
The bottom line is there are many problems when it comes to Medicaid expansion, not just financially for taxpayers, but also for people who enrolled in the program.
"One of the problems that we haven't discussed yet with Medicaid is that when doctors have a higher patient population that comes from Medicaid, this, of course, takes a big bite out of their business," the health policy director notes.
"Insurance companies may do better when it comes to managed care or Medicaid, but doctors and providers actually do worse when you compare the other private insurance plans that are out there," she concludes.