What the NYT Doesn’t Know About Health Reform

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by John Goodman,

from NCPA,

Civilization as we know it is coming apart according to the editorial board of The New York Times. This is how last Thursday’s lead editorial addressed the failure of the states to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government is willing to pick up 100 percent of the costs of the expansion for the next few years:

As Robert Pear of The Times recently reported, more than half of all people without health insurance live in states that are not planning to expand coverage. Many of those states already do a terrible job of covering the poor and have no interest in changing their ways, no matter the financial incentive. On Medicaid, education and many other issues, the map of the United States is becoming a patchwork of conscience and callousness. People on one side of a state line have access to health care, strong public schools and colleges, and good transportation systems, while those on the other side do not. The breakdown of a sense of national unity in Washington is now reflected across the country, as more than two dozen states begin to abandon traditions of responsible government.

With that level of hyperbole, it is only natural to suspect that the entire editorial was ghost written by Paul (if-you-disagree-with-me-you-must-be-evil) Krugman. Yet in his column the next day, Krugman showed that when it comes to irresponsible editorial writing, he is nonpareil:

[T]he only way to understand the refusal to expand Medicaid is as an act of sheer spite…Just think about this for a minute. It’s one thing when politicians refuse to spend money helping the poor and vulnerable; that’s just business as usual. But here we have a case in which politicians are, in effect, spending large sums, in the form of rejected aid, not to help the poor but to hurt them.

And the consequences of all this maliciousness?

Medicaid rejectionism will deny health coverage to roughly 3.6 million Americans, with essentially all of the victims living near or below the poverty line. And since past experience shows that Medicaid expansion is associated with significant declines in mortality, this would mean a lot of avoidable deaths: about 19,000 a year, the study estimated. (Emphasis mine.)

… Sorry for that pause. I was overcome by a sudden surge of grief…

But wait a minute. Something is wrong here.

Let’s see…there are about 50 million uninsured…mostly living in states that are not expanding Medicaid…and as a result there will be 3.6 million who don’t get insured…And…3.6 divided by 50…is 7.2%.

Hmmm. Only 7.2 percent of the uninsured will fail to get insurance because half the states don’t expand Medicaid? We could fail to insure that many just by bureaucratic snafus alone.

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