Fact check: Obamacare Medicaid expansion will raise healthcare costs

Thanks to President Donald Trump, the term “fake news” is everywhere in today’s political sphere. The president has rightly used the term to call out distortions of the truth by the mainstream media.  But reporters are hardly alone in disseminating less-than-truthful information.  One Idaho-based political outfit is actively obscuring the truth in an effort to bamboozle you.

I write of Reclaim Idaho, the left-wing group behind the Obamacare Medicaid expansion campaign. In one fell swoop, these progressive activists promise Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion will create oodles of jobs, bring millions in new tax revenues to the state, and save you money along the way.

We are told that Obamacare Medicaid expansion is the Swiss army knife of public policy. But these claims are fake news or, more accurately, false facts, particularly the portion about the cost-savings associated with Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Just a few weeks ago, the conservative Goldwater Institute released a damning study that reveals an inconvenient truth about Obamacare’s expansion of government-run healthcare:  Obamacare Medicaid expansion costs the privately insured and taxpayers more money.   

Case in point.  A few years ago, Arizona faced the same decision Idaho faces today whether to expand Obamacare Medicaid. Special interests went all-in to lobby lawmakers selling Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion on the tantalizing notion that expansion would shield local taxpayers and the privately insured from picking up sky-high costs associated with uncompensated care. Eventually, Republicans caved in and adopted President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare policy known as Medicaid expansion.

Unfortunately for Arizona taxpayers, the promise hasn’t come to fruition.  According to the Goldwater Institute’s study, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion likely increases healthcare costs for the privately insured and taxpayers.  The report explains, “Arizona bought the promise of Medicaid expansion on the basis that it would alleviate the supposed ‘cost-shifting’ claims that hospitals were passing their uncompensated care costs to private payers, resulting in higher insurance premiums.”

But the promised cost-shifting relief did not happen. IFF President Wayne Hoffman, who wrote about the study in his recent weekly column, explained what transpired following Arizona’s Obamacare Medicaid expansion.  Hoffman wrote, “If cost shifting had been occurring, it still is, and more so. Research from 2007 asserted that uncompensated care drove up costs to private payers and Medicare by as much as 14 percent.”   

A decade after the original study, Goldwater researchers applied the same methodology to measure any differences in the cost-shifting situation. What happened? Researchers found that private payers and Medicare now remit 27 percent above hospitals’ costs—that’s a 13% increase even after Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.  The study concludes, “Arizona’s expansion not only failed to deliver on its promise to alleviate supposed cost burdens on private payers, it exacerbated them.” In Idaho, we’d label the promises of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion as all hat and no cattle. Don’t be fooled by the fake facts, folks.

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