Jeff Glendening: Study’s predictions not coming true elsewhere

Dec 17, 2015 by AFP

Written by Jeff Glendening, AFP Kansas State Director

The Eagle reported on a study that concluded it would be financially beneficial for Kansas to adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion (Dec. 9 Eagle). Though at face value the influx of federal dollars may seem to provide a boost, the facts remain – as other states have shown – that state costs are completely unpredictable and state taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

None of Manatt Health Solutions’ expected avenues of savings is helping states across the country fill the massive budget holes being left by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The examples are seemingly endless, and they are occurring in states of varying geography, demography and political makeup.

In Ohio, Medicaid expansion ran $1.5 billion over budget in its first 18 months. As of June 2015, the program’s enrollment was already more than 30 percent higher than the state projected it would ever be.

As a result, in his most recent budget, Gov. John Kasich proposed cutting Medicaid eligibility for pregnant women and women with breast or cervical cancer in order to help pay for expansion.

Obamacare proponents in Kansas might trust future Congresses to live up to the expensive promises of the Obama administration, but they would be wise to reconsider. The inflated Obamacare Medicaid expansion match rate undoubtedly will be one of the first items on the chopping block if Congress ever gets serious about addressing the skyrocketing national debt, which Medicaid expansion is worsening.

There are similar stories to Ohio taking place all over the country. In Iowa, 2014 enrollment was 50 percent more than expectations. In Arkansas, it was 36 percent more. In Colorado, 207 percent. Illinois’ expansion was $800 million over budget in 2014, and expected 2017-20 state costs of Medicaid expansion were revised from $573 million to $2 billion – more than tripling. In Kentucky, it was 144 percent more than projections, and double the maximum expected enrollment ever.

Kentucky’s expansion is now expected to run $1.5 billion over budget in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, and new Gov. Matt Bevin ran on a campaign to roll back the program, as leaders in Arkansas, New Hampshire and elsewhere are exploring as well.

Ultimately, it is state legislators who have to balance the state budget. And doing so after Medicaid expansion will inevitably mean funding cuts to other essential services such as roads and schools, tax increases, or some combination of both.

Kansas politicians would be foolish to make our state more dependent on promises from Washington, D.C., just to expand President Obama’s failed health care law.

This article originally appeared in the Wichita Eagle.

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