Opinion: Medicaid expansion is socialism

Thursday, March 28, 2019
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Traditional Medicaid was created to lend a hand to our most vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, the governor, Democrat legislators and more than a few Republican legislators are trying to prop up an entitlement program for the ablebodied, Medicaid expansion. Expansion is the brain-child of the Obama Administration and the gateway to a socialist and broken singlepayer health care system like Canada’s. Socialism is a repeatedly failed ideology (Venezuela), and destroys the principles of freedom and liberty that have made America great and that have allowed Americans to create our own destiny. Socialism destroys the incentives of those who want to produce wealth by taking their earnings through taxation and giving them to those who did not earn or deserve it.

Here are the true facts about Medicaid expansion:

Expansion opens the floodgates to waste, fraud and abuse as evidenced across America. Unlike traditional Medicaid, expansion requires no asset test and allowing the wealthy to game the system. It also enables the physically able to get free health care as evidenced by the fact that nearly 23,000 expansion enrollees are able-bodied and have no dependent children according to DPHHS.

The reality is that when hard-working Montanans qualify for federal health care subsidies on the exchange, Obamacare’s costs are outrageous and the deductibles are in the thousands. Many cannot afford this debacle and go without health insurance, even while their taxes are paying for able-bodied individuals’ free health care. This is truly socialism.

If expansion continues, the total estimated cost for the 2021 biennium will be $1.5 billion – of which $126 million will come from Montana taxpayers and $1.374 billion will add to the federal debt of $22 trillion.

In Montana, expansion has grown from $630 million per biennium to a $1.5 billion program and there is no end in sight. This is simply irresponsible when Montana’s long-term unfunded pension liabilities are currently $4.5 billion, up from $3.6 billion in last two years. Montana has neglected infrastructure needs; and expansion increases our debt and puts our schools, colleges and other programs in jeopardy. Maybe we should all ask ourselves: When will we start doing what is right, and stop recklessly propelling America and Montana towards financial ruin?

If those who support expansion really cared about the welfare of Montanans, they would offer proven market solutions that lower costs and improve care. A few examples:

First: Tax-exempt Health Savings Accounts were available before Obamacare, allowing Americans to buy catastrophic coverage health insurance costing pennies on the dollar compared to Obama’s unaffordable healthcare act.

Second: Another example – but not insurance – is faith-based health care sharing ministries, which provide excellent health care costsharing for a fraction of the cost of government-funded health insurance.

Third: The governor should also sign SB 125 to allow health insurance companies to re-insure. This would reduce premiums for private pay insureds (about 60,000 Montanans) by 10-20 percent.

Fourth: Enable out-ofstate insurers to compete in Montana. This provides consumers more choice, competition and lower premiums.

Fifth: Finally, Montanans need pricing transparency from doctors and hospitals, and incentives from insurance companies to shop, which will lower health care costs for all.

These solutions and many more can only help if the governor and legislators really care about you, the hard-working Montanan! Call your legislators (406-444-4800) today and tell them you want to stop expansion and offer free market alternatives.

Signed by: Sens. David Howard (R-Park City), Roger Webb (R-Billings), Gordon Vance (R-Belgrade), Dee Brown (R-Hungry Horse), Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux), Keith Regier (R-Kalispell), Doug Kary (R-Billings) and Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton); House Majority Leader Brad Tschida (R-Missoula); and Reps. Carl Glimm (R-Kila), Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton), Barry Usher (R-Billings) and Matt Regier (R-Columbia Falls)