John Bel Panics, Begs Congress To Keep Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

It’s almost like we were right in saying it was stupid to take that money.

Hmmmmm. Isn’t this interesting?

Gov. John Bel Edwards is urging Congress to keep the Medicaid expansion program intact as they work to replace President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Louisiana’s Democratic governor sent a letter Tuesday to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. In it, he says he has “serious concern” with the GOP health plan because it would end the higher federal financing rate for Medicaid expansion in 2020.

Edwards embraced the expansion, making Louisiana the 31st state to participate. More than 405,000 people have enrolled in the coverage.

In his letter, Edwards says more than 62,000 of the enrollees have had preventive health care treatments, with some getting diagnosed with – and treated for – cancer and diabetes.

He says Medicaid expansion has saved Louisiana money and boosted health jobs in the state.

Medicaid is the worst health insurance program there is. Most doctors won’t take Medicaid patients, so your access to actual health care if you’re on Medicaid isn’t any better than if you just show up at the ER and wait. Which is, as it happens, what Medicaid patients usually do. But we’re told that’s a good thing, because the federal government will pay 90 percent of the cost of that instead of the 60 percent they pay for straight-up indigent health care.

Except that the Medicaid expansion doesn’t cover indigent people. It covers working-class people who could be in the private insurance market if private insurance was cheaper. But private insurance won’t be cheaper, because the more people are on Medicaid, the more the private sector has to cough up to subsidize them. Expanding Medicaid makes that problem worse and drives private health insurance into a smaller and smaller corner.

You’ve really got to read this letter, though. It’s a hoot. He says Medicaid expansion is a success and that most of the governors who’ve taken it would agree (most of them are Democrats who think every possible attempt to expand government is a success, so there is that) because were it to go away it would blow a hole in their budgets. That’s the whole argument for not taking the expansion in the first place, of course – it’s fiscally irresponsible to expose your budget to such risks as depending on a federal government $20 trillion in debt to go on giving you more and more money.

He also says that Medicaid expansion will make it possible for Louisiana to invest in TOPS, which is interesting since TOPS was always fully funded until Edwards came along and expanded Medicaid – and then TOPS’ funding took a 30 percent hit. Funny how that happened.

And then Edwards says Medicaid expansion has been a boon to health care jobs in Louisiana, but when those jobs are fully funded by government spending it’s not like you can say Medicaid expansion is growing the state’s economy. That’s almost literally an argument for taxing yourself into prosperity.

Louisiana’s governor looks a lot like an economic illiterate for having written that letter, and it’s fairly certain it won’t sway anyone in Congress. The Republicans’ Obamacare replacement is a long shot to pass, but the elimination of the Medicaid expansion is likely in whatever is actually signed. That was the main reason why it was a mistake for Edwards to sign on to the Medicaid expansion in the first place, and nothing has changed.

It’s just one more reason this ought to be a one-term governor. Those are starting to pile up.

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