Ohio

Jim DeMint: Ohio Should Reject Medicaid Expansion “Fool’s Gold”

Policy Jim DeMint

Jim DeMint, president of The Heritage Foundation and formerly a U.S. senator from South Carolina, described the promise of Obamacare Medicaid expansion funding as “fool’s gold” in an August 26 interview with Media Trackers.

“I hope the people of Ohio will not take what I call fool’s gold; it looks good, it’d make the budget look good the next three to four years – that’s if the federal government comes through with this,” DeMint said of the major component of President Obama’s 2010 health law still being debated in the Ohio General Assembly.

Asked about Governor John Kasich’s insistence that expanding Medicaid is the compassionate thing to do, DeMint replied, “John’s a friend, I appreciate the great job he’s doing – but on this issue, I think he’s wrong in the sense that when we try to make government the means of compassion, we have found that that doesn’t work.”

“I don’t think we can call it compassion to make people dependent on the government, and trap them in dependency,” DeMint explained.

“Putting people on Medicaid has not proved to help people’s health care,” DeMint said. “In fact, the data suggest that people with no insurance at all are as healthy or healthier than those on Medicaid.”

Academic research supports DeMint’s position. For example, a 2010 University of Virginia study found that surgical patients covered by Medicaid were 13 percent more likely to die than those without health insurance.

An Oregon study released this May concluded that “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years,” and a 2011 Case Western Reserve University study found that Medicaid patients had worse cancer survival rates than both the privately insured and those with no insurance.

DeMint noted that as Medicaid eligibility is extended to more people, “fewer and fewer doctors are going to take them – it just doesn’t pay doctors enough.”

In 2011, 28 percent of Ohio’s office-based physicians were already refusing to accept new Medicaid patients.

“Once they’re on Medicaid, it’s very difficult for them to work their way off,” DeMint added. ”We just find it traps people. More and more physicians are closing their practices to Medicare and Medicaid, and I just don’t think it’s compassionate at all.”

Of the taxpayer burden represented by the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, DeMint said, “The way the federal government has incentivized it is to put in a lot of up-front money, but over a ten-year period it will cost Ohio billions of dollars to move people onto Medicaid plans that are already strangling state governments.”

In March, Heritage reported that expanding Medicaid would cost Ohio taxpayers $3.1 billion through 2022, based on the left-leaning Urban Institute’s projections.

On August 26, Opportunity Ohio released a paper from Jonathan Ingram of the Foundation for Government Accountability which pointed out Ohio’s adoption of the Obamacare Medicaid expansion would cost state and federal taxpayers $46 billion over the next twelve years.

“I would just encourage any state to look at what Medicaid is doing to their current budget and recognize that the promises of more federal money over time are just not gonna come true,” DeMint continued.

“The federal government is broke, it’s printing money, it’s borrowing money, and the likelihood that they’re even gonna come through on the promises they’ve made for Medicaid expansion… they’re not real.”

“The best thing we can do for our country now is to have states be demonstration projects for freedom,” DeMint told Media Trackers.

“The federal government is not gonna provide good health care for our poor,” he concluded. “That’s something we can do a lot better at the state level.”

DeMint will be visiting central Ohio on August 27 for a Heritage Action for America town hall, part of a national tour encouraging members of Congress to refuse to fund Obamacare.