Medicaid Expansion Myths and Facts

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Today Gov. Corbett is meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to discuss Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania – a critical part of Obamacare. Here are a few of the most common myths proponents  – including Sebelius – are employing to convince officials to expand the broken program.

Medicaid Expansion Myths and Facts

Myth #1: The Medicaid expansion is largely funded by free federal money for state governments.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would pay the lion’s share of costs for new Medicaid enrollees. But the federal government first takes that money through taxes on individuals, families and businesses across America – including those in Pennsylvania. The ACA included more than 20 new taxes with a $500 billion price tag. That’s $6,363 more in taxes per family of four over the next nine years.

President Obama has already proposed reducing the federal government’s matching rate for Medicaid, meaning states like Pennsylvania would have to pay even more. Even if the federal government manages to keep its promise, Pennsylvania would have to come up with billions in additional state tax dollars to afford the expansion, or cut funding from other departments, like education and transportation.

Myth #2: No expansion means Pennsylvanians will subsidize Medicaid expansion in other states.

Expansion states will not receive additional expansion dollars because other states opt out, rather the total cost of the ACA will decrease. According to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office projection, states refusing to expand Medicaid in 2014 will reduce the federal deficit by $84 billion. Rejecting the Medicaid expansion keeps money in the pockets of Pennsylvania taxpayers who also pay federal taxes.

Myth #3: Expanding Medicaid will increase access to quality health care for low-income Pennsylvanians.

Medicaid is a troubled program that often harms the poor. Due to low payment rates, one-third of doctors won’t see Medicaid patients, meaning recipients have difficulty securing appointments. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 44 percent of children with juvenile diabetes on Medicaid could not get an appointment with an endocrinologist, compared to only nine percent with private insurance.

When Medicaid patients do receive care, they often experience worse outcomes than the uninsured. For example, a University of Virginia study found that Medicaid patients are twice as likely to die following surgery as those with private insurance and 13 percent more likely to die than the uninsured.

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