BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
Some time today the Mississippi House of Representatives is expected to take up House Bill 560, the Medicaid Technical Bill that would extend the life of the current Medicaid program.
Speaker Philip Gunn announced yesterday afternoon that the Senate version of that extension was tabled in the House and wouldn’t come to the floor for debate. That version, SB 2207, allows for amendments, which would allow Democrats to continue to demagogue the issue of Medicaid expansion through ObamaCare. Medicaid expansion has been deemed “dead on arrival” in the Senate and at the Governor’s office.
Speaker Gunn, in essence, is telling Democrats to vote for the clean bill that forbids ObamaCare Medicaid expansion or get ready for the governor to run the program by executive order.
Gunn’s move is a good one. He is forcing some much needed discipline in the House to keep oversight of the Medicaid program in legislative hands, and to keep current Medicaid beneficiaries receiving health care. Apparently Democrats are ready to throw those most in need under the bus in order to try and force a political debate over ObamaCare that they will lose in the end, anyway.
Democrats don’t have the votes. So, they’re opting to try and make it as messy as possible.
But, this subject is much deeper than political comeuppance or gotcha. The entire stance on Medicaid expansion is one that seriously hampers long term aid to the most needy, and they are being lost in this argument.
Much of the focus of those that oppose expansion has been over the very real fact that the state can’t afford it even with the feds kicking in much of the up front costs. But, even if we could afford expansion the real losers of such a move in the end are those that would participate in the program.
The Medicaid program is supposed to take care of the most indigent and poor among us. It does that, fraud notwithstanding. Those fighting for survival on the low income/no income end of the spectrum are far removed from the actual costs of the health care they receive through Medicaid. An expansion of Medicaid throws in another group of beneficiaries and further insulates direct consumers from costs of services.
Health care doesn’t just happen. It costs money to provide services.
The more that people are given for free, the less they have to be concerned about the costs. The less they are concerned about costs, the more costs will rise and the more it will end up costing taxpayers who are footing the bill.
The argument for Medicaid expansion from some corners is the same as the argument for a state-run insurance exchange: The private industry supports it. But, that alone doesn’t make it a good thing for consumers nor taxpayers.
In the case of Medicaid expansion the industry that would benefit is the larger hospital groups. They want these Medicaid dollars to help grow their share of the health care market. The problem with that is that the more taxes that are required to fund it takes more money out of an already ailing economy. This leads to larger and larger percentage of GDP being taken up by transfer payments to cover entitlements.
The more people added to the rolls through expansion, the more hospitals will lobby the government for tax increases to fund the expansion of services, driving out competition and contributing to more and more regulation that prevents personalized care. That leads to monopolized health care that then must be further regulated to continue to “correct” problems.
And, THAT is where price controls and rationing must come in to “control” the out of control system. That’s when we end up with the “single payer” system liberals have always wanted.
Conservatives understand this even if they are unsure of how to effectively communicate it.
It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Examples of government intervention that require more government intervention are all around us. Government intervention stifles innovation, reduces services and increases bureaucracy, which in turn reduces the likelihood that the most vulnerable among us will get the service they need. And wasn’t providing help to the needy the point of Medicaid in the first place?
We’ve already heard from some Democrats in the House that rejecting this expansion is akin to racism. That’s a tired old method that unfortunately still works with some who would rather play the victim than educate themselves on reality. I would put the odds somewhere around 70/30 that we hear it again over the coming weeks.
Conservatives in Mississippi rule the roost right now. You won’t hear many Democrats claim to be a “liberal”. That doesn’t play well to Mississippi voters. But, it hasn’t stopped Democrats from promoting liberal policies like Medicaid expansion. The age-old disagreement of more or less government has a well worn track record in favor of the conservative argument.
Another Missed Opportunity by Republicans.
The missed opportunity here, as in many other cases, is that Republican leaders aren’t communicating that it is the most vulnerable that are better protected and served by conservative policy. In turn, Democrats can continue to do what they do best: whip people into a frenzy with the false narrative of evil Republicans in bed with big business to take away the rights of the impoverished. In reality, it is the opposite that is true.
Democrat leadership should suggest a “Yay” vote on HB 560. If they don’t–if they continue to put expansion before this Medicaid extension–it’s just more proof that Democrats are willing to sacrifice those most in need at the alter of their disproved big government ideology.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett