- - Thursday, June 29, 2017


Has Medicaid become the gold standard for our health care system?

For Democrats and moderate Republicans, the government-run program is becoming their favored solution for those lacking health insurance. Providing choices for Americans in a free market health care system has slowly eroded under Obamacare’s weight. The health insurance companies continue to pull out of markets, especially in rural America.

This week, Bloomberg reported that health insurer Anthem Inc. would quit offering Obamacare plans in much of Nevada, and 8,000 people in 13 counties will not have options on the individual insurance exchanges. Obamacare’s problems have created a national crisis, and the solution in the liberal minds is more Medicaid.

The expansion of Medicaid is troubling because more states have grown dependent on the federal money to cover the uninsured, creating a disincentive to purchase private health insurance. Medicaid, originally created to cover poor women, children and the disabled, has become a default crutch for millions more Americans.

Democrats pride themselves in using Medicaid to throw millions more Americans onto a government-run program. They barely mention salvaging the individual market and reducing premiums, and instead offer Medicaid as the panacea for middle-class Americans being squeezed out of the private marketplace.

But Medicaid expansion creates disincentives to work and keeps people trapped in a cycle of dependency and poverty. Bloomberg reported that several studies, including a 2014 Congressional Budget Office analysis, make the case that Medicaid results in “significant and lasting reductions in employment” for adults without children, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

This research showed that if 21 million additional adults enroll in Medicaid, employment will fall by between 511,000 and 2.2 million people. The 2014 CBO study also addressed this issue of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion having a negative effect on the labor supply. Medicaid brings people down and does not give able-bodied men and women any incentive to participate in the workforce.

While moderate Republicans and liberals want to curb the expansion of Medicaid, they should also remember that pushing for an expansion of this entitlement program is not a healthy solution for our labor market. Americans want real choices and not just a poorly run government program as their only option.

The expansion of Medicaid is just the first step toward the single-payer system so beloved by the left. It is their vision for America’s future health care system, a system where competition is undermined and more Americans depend on the government for help.

Now it’s time for President Trump to make his case to voters that real reforms are needed to fix Obamacare. He needs to use his bully pulpit to deliver the message and explain why these changes are needed to help stabilize the individual markets and help the middle class deal with the rising premium costs.

While he’s at it, he can explain that it’s not helpful to push more able-bodied working Americans into Medicaid. We need to make health care more affordable, where individuals can pick their own options instead of being left out in the cold or forced into a government program.

A government program, by definition, can never be the gold standard.

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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