The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP), a Democratic think tank, is spreading misinformation about the Medicaid expansion proposal currently under consideration in the Legislature. In a brief entitled, “Debunking Myths About Health Reform Dollars for Maine,” MECEP’s Christy Roix Daggett says Republicans only oppose Medicaid expansion because of “overall ideological opposition to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.”
“Fierce and unremitting political and legal battles over this 2010 law have spread many myths. As Maine lawmakers once again debate accepting federal health care dollars to expand Medicaid, dubious claims cry out for careful consideration in light of the facts,” says Daggett.
So what are these “myths” and “dubious claims”?
According to Daggett, Maine’s Medicaid spending does not wreck the state budget: “Opponents of going forward with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act argue that it will place too great a burden on the state budget. In fact, the federal government will fund almost the entire expanded Medicaid program through 2020 and 90% thereafter.”
First of all, even without expansion, Medicaid is consuming a great and growing portion of Maine’s general fund. That is a fact. Furthermore, Daggett conveniently ignores both the Alexander Group report and the Department of Health and Human Services cost projections. She ignores the fact that some within the expansion population are not eligible for 100 percent reimbursement in the first 3 years and she ignores the administrative costs of expansion, 50 percent of which must be covered by taxpayers. She also ignores the costs of hiring 80 or more state employees to handle an expanded program. In short, she ignores that practical facts of expansion and hides behind the Obama administration’s funding promises. You can find a detailed look at the cost of expansion here.
Daggett’s next falsehood involves the implications of rejecting expansion. She says, “Rejecting Medicaid funds will not reduce the federal budget deficit.” This is patently false. Rejecting Medicaid expansion does not mean taxpayer dollars flow to other states; it means they do not get spent. States that have decided to reject expansion have already reduced the federal deficit by billions of dollars.
But Daggett’s most heinous claims have little to do with cost.
“Expanding Medicaid offers vital help to the poor, seniors and disabled,” said Daggett. This is false. The Medicaid expansion population includes able-bodied young adults — not seniors. And providing free medical care to these able-bodied young adults will consume resources which otherwise could have been used to fund care for severely disabled individuals on waitlists. Expanding Medicaid will not impact seniors and will delay care for disabled individuals. So why is Daggett cloaking her policies in compassion for the elderly and disabled?
It’s amazing that a Democratic think tank continues to promulgate and espouse talking points that have no basis in reality. But the most astonishing part of Daggett’s statements is her apparent belief that one can only oppose Medicaid expansion because of lingering ideological opposition to Obamacare. DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, one of the foremost opponents of Medicaid expansion, is a Democrat. Tell me more about her ideological opposition to President Obama…