ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

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By Michael Tanner,

from New York Post,

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that roughly 1.6 million Americans have enrolled in ObamaCare so far.

The not-so-good news is that 1.46 million of them actually signed up for Medicaid. If that trend continues, it could bankrupt both federal and state governments.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that, in part because of ObamaCare, Medicaid spending will more than double over the next 10 years, topping $554 billion by 2023.

And that is just federal spending.

State governments pay another $160 billion for Medicaid today. For most states, Medicaid is the single-largest cost of government, crowding out education, transportation and everything else.

New York spent more than $15 billion on Medicaid last year, roughly 30% of all state expenditures. The Kaiser Foundation projects that over the next 10 years, New York taxpayers will shell out some $433 billion for the program.

But none of these projections foresaw that so many of ObamaCare’s enrollees would be Medicaid eligible.

To be sure, the health-care law’s designers saw the expansion of Medicaid as an important feature of their plan to expand coverage for the uninsured. Still, they expected most of those enrolling in ObamaCare to qualify for private (albeit subsidized) insurance.

It’s beginning to look like that was just another miscalculation, one that could have very serious consequences for the program’s costs.

Moreover, any projection of Medicaid’s future cost to New York taxpayers assumes that the federal government keeps its promise to pay 100% of the cost for Medicaid’s expansion over the next three years and 90% thereafter. But given the growing burden that Medicare will put on a federal budget already facing high debt levels, how likely is it that changes in the federal share of Medicaid will stay off the table?

Every bit as bad as the cost is the fact that for all this money, recipients are going to get pretty lousy health care.

Of course, one might say that even bad health care is better than no health care. But, unfortunately, for Medicaid, that’s not true.

That’s one reason why so many Medicaid patients show up at the emergency room for treatment. They can’t find a doctor to treat them otherwise.

As bad as this is now, ObamaCare will make it worse by increasing the number of people on Medicaid without doing anything to increase the number of doctors treating them.

We don’t know yet whether the rush to Medicaid will continue. It may be that the troubles with the ObamaCare website might have skewed the early signups. But if ObamaCare really does lead to a massive expansion of this costly and inefficient program, that’s bad news for taxpayers, providers and patients.

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