- - Tuesday, October 6, 2015

At a campaign stop in Florida a couple days ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton didn’t focus on her “mistake” of using a private email server to send classified information as Secretary of State or the fact that nearly two-thirds of the country thinks she is neither honest nor trustworthy.

Instead, she decided to bash Republicans for making the smart policy decision of rejecting the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion.

“In Florida, as many as 650,000 could have gotten coverage under Medicaid,” the former first lady told the group at Broward College. “Fewer people without insurance means fewer people who get preventive care, more visits to the emergency room. It makes no sense economically.”

She tried to hit her opponents hard with that one, but unfortunately for Mrs. Clinton, she couldn’t even get that regularly rehearsed talking point right. In fact, emergency room visits spiked in states that expanded Medicaid in comparison to those that did not.

Also, while on the topic of economics, taxpayers don’t fare so well under the expansion of Medicaid – a program whose health outcomes are no better than for those without health insurance.

Medicaid is actually making it harder for taxpayers to get a good deal for the money they hand over to government. A new study from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University shows that Medicaid spending “is crowding out spending on other major state programs, most notably education and transportation infrastructure.”

While the Medicaid expansion relies completely on federal funding in the first year or two, states will be on the hook for 10 percent of the ever-growing costs by 2020. And that amount is likely to grow as the feds realize government coffers cannot afford the massive entitlement.

Already, the feds only pay for about half of the Medicaid program outside of the expansion. And congressional leaders have said the first thing to be cut in a tough budget is the 90 percent federal Medicaid reimbursement rate.

While it is expected that Mrs. Clinton is doing everything she can to out-left Sen. Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary, it is odd that a similar fight is happening on the other side of the aisle.

Both Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio expanded Medicaid in their states. While the former does not really like to talk about it – and even puts on a front that he would cut entitlements – Mr. Kasich is happy to talk about why his acceptance of Obamacare is a good thing.

“There is no money in Washington, it’s money we sent from our state of Ohio to Washington that I was able to bring back to help the mentally ill get on their feet,” Mr. Kasich said before he formally announced his presidential campaign.

Another quote that is just simply wrong: The Medicaid expansion covers able-bodied childless adults – not the mentally ill. There are already several federal programs – some through Medicaid – that cover individuals who are physically or developmentally disabled. No one is trying to eliminate these programs that truly help people.

The expansion of Medicaid covers people above the poverty line who are more than able to get a job. Not to mention, there is not a magic pot of Medicaid money that states are grabbing from. Another state will not get the funds if they are not used.

If a state rejects the expansion, federal spending simply would not increase. If a state follows the Kasich model, the federal deficit just gets bigger.

Besides being poor policy, both Mr. Christie and Mr. Kasich could face an uphill battle with Republican voters.

A recent poll from the Foundation for Government Accountability shows Republican voters in early primary states are less likely to support a candidate who expanded Medicaid.

More than 80 percent of likely Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire oppose the expansion. And 61 percent in Iowa said it would make them less likely to support a candidate. It is nearly the same in New Hampshire where 56 percent of likely GOP voters would be less likely support a candidate.

Those are some tough numbers for already struggling candidates.

Luckily for taxpayers, other policymakers are willing to stand up for them and reject Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion.

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