Medicaid Expansion

Expanding Medicaid means more taxes for working Mainers

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Health care is perhaps the most complex and contentious issue being debated throughout Maine and the country today. At the national level, the Republican-led House and Senate have both offered their own repeal and replacement plans for ObamaCare, which are facing stark opposition from the liberal left.

In Maine, conservative leaders have battled rigidly to enact crucial reforms of our state’s healthcare system like Direct Primary Care and the Right to Shop, while their counterparts in Augusta continue to advocate for and obstruct political progress.

Among individual citizens, discourse continues over the perception of health care in our society – is it a fundamental right, or should it be treated like all other goods and services we consume as Americans?

The gist of the liberal stance on health care is as follows: Despite the objective failures of ObamaCare, it is still the best health care system America could employ, and any conservative attempt to reform or improve the law is a ploy to cancel your care, leaving you to die.

These assertions are undoubtedly false, and unfortunately, the necessary dialogues taking place have become watered down with misinformation from the left, who have used fear-mongering and bully tactics to try and sway voters to their side of the issue.

Take, for instance, CoverMaineNow.com, a website that appears to be the nexus of all things Medicaid Expansion in Maine. Unsurprisingly, you cannot read even the first sentence on the website without encountering a falsehood.

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has set aside federal dollars for Maine to provide Medicaid coverage to approximately 69,500 people who would be uninsured otherwise.”

Wrong.

The ACA, or ObamaCare, has not set aside federal dollars for Maine, or any other state, to expand its Medicaid program. This is a common misconception that liberals want you to believe – that money exists in Washington that the feds are lying around on until Maine expands Medicaid coverage to able-bodied people, and that once we do, millions of dollars will come pouring into our state and spur economic growth.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The federal government has not yet appropriated these funds. If Maine were to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, it would trigger a new federal appropriation by the Medicaid program. Along with this comes a truth that liberals are desperate to hide: the taxation necessary to generate the federal appropriation.

These taxes are so high that existing data suggests economic activity actually decreases after expansion. When Maine most recently expanded its Medicaid program in 2002, the state saw its GDP growth decline in comparison to the output prior to expansion, illustrated in Graph 1 below.

Liberals can boast of how Medicaid expansion will create thousands of new jobs and boost economic activity throughout the state, but understand that these opinions are not rooted in reality. Expanding Medicaid to able-bodied citizens is a costly endeavor that requires enormous taxation of the masses.

Contrary to their claims, there are no federal dollars sitting around in Washington that we will lose if we don’t expand. The funds don’t exist if we do not expand our system.

Maine, and the rest of the country, could use a small dose of reality in the ongoing healthcare debate.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is a policy analyst for the Maine Heritage Policy Center. He can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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