Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he shares colleagues’ concerns that the Affordable Care Act could become a “train wreck” if it’s not implemented properly. Reid warned that people will not be able to choose health insurance plans on government health exchanges if federal authorities lack the resources to set them up and educate the public. “Max said unless we implement this properly it’s going to be a train wreck, and I agree with him,” Reid said, echoing a warning delivered last month by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Reid warned the federal government is not spending enough money to implement the law because of Republican opposition to ObamaCare. “Here’s what we have now, we have the menu but we don’t have any way to get to the menu,” Reid said. “The president is taking money — I wish we had the money just to do this on its own, but he’s agreed, he’s determined he’s going to take money from some of the other things that he feels are less important in the healthcare bill and put it on letting you and others know what’s in the bill,” Reid [said].
In 2008, Oregon expanded its Medicaid program, but because the state could not cover everybody, lawmakers opened up a lottery that randomly drew 30,000 names from a waiting list of almost 90,000 and allowed them to apply for the program. This created a unique opportunity for health researchers, ultimately allowing them to compare the health outcomes of 6,387 low-income adults who were able to enroll in the program with 5,842 who were not selected. Contrary to liberal assumptions, researchers found that those who enrolled in Medicaid spent a lot more on medical care than those who weren’t able to enroll, but didn’t significantly improve their health outcomes.
Specifically, researchers found that those who received Medicaid increased their annual health care spending by $1,172, or 35 percent more than those who did not receive Medicaid. Those with Medicaid were more likely to be screened for diabetes and use diabetes medication and to make use of other preventive care measures. The study also examined health metrics including blood pressure and cholesterol. Ultimately, the authors concluded that, “This randomized, controlled study showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured health outcomes in the first two years...
Righty wonks are treating this like a bombshell insofar as it might halt Democratic efforts to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, but I don’t know. It might give confidence to Republicans in purple states, but the blue states will plow ahead. If they did ten more studies confirming this result, those would all be spun away too. This is an “identity” issue for Democrats — they’ll fight to protect the welfare state, whether it works or not, whether we can afford it or not — and as with abortion (or guns on the right), they won’t cede an inch on “slippery slope” grounds. Even if they were convinced that Medicaid isn’t worth the expense, they won’t relinquish a key political bludgeon against the right. Celebrate the result as a win for truth, but not because policy’s likely to shift dramatically.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography