Jesse Cross-Call at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities wrote an interesting article, Medicaid Expansion States Are Saving Money. It summarizes a couple of research papers that show that in the five states studied, the state governments themselves saved money. For example, it is estimated in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, Arkansas will save $89 million. That comes to $30 for every man, woman, and child in the state. Or looked at another way, it is about a quarter percent of the state’s budget. So it isn’t an insubstantial amount of money. And remember: this is in addition to all the people who, you know, get health insurance. And it will also stimulate the local economy.
There are two ways that the states save money. The first is that Medicaid pays for procedures that the state would normally have to pay for. Consider a crazy person who has to be hospitalized. Before, the state would have to pay for that treatment. But mental health is paid for with Obamacare. So the state doesn’t have to pay. Very simple. The second way that the states save money is by having tax receipts increased. The extra medical care that is consumed because more people have insurance leads to more tax revenues.
Hooray! Of course, we are left with the same frustrating status: 22 states have not accepted the Medicaid Expansion. This is free money that their citizens are being denied. What’s more, it is money that their citizens are already paying to the federal government, regardless of what the states do. And now we know that these states are also losing out by having to pay for care they don’t need to, and keeping their economies artificially depressed. And all for what? So they can stand up for the principle that they really, really don’t like President Obama? I expect better from kindergarten children.
The states that prefer to have hissy fits are exactly the states you would think: the deep south and the plains states where the population is diffuse but the neo-Nazi and Klan membership is strong. All of this makes me think that their irrational behavior regarding the Medicaid expansion may not be so much about their hatred of Obama and more about their hatred of “those people” and the thought that they might actually get help they need and deserve. The outliers in the pattern are Wisconsin and Maine: two states where the people keep voting in governors who are determined to destroy the people of the state. What is it going to take for those people to wake up?
I wonder how long these states will hold out. This ought to go on at least while Obama is president. But after that, it is going to be increasingly hard to maintain that Obamacare is the penultimate step to Stalinism as they see all the other states getting their people insured, their economies stimulated, and their government costs lowered. Of course, once this does happen, we will be left with the same old thing we are always be left with: complete denial. The conservatives will never admit that they spent years athwart progress yelling “stop” — while all around them people died. It will be the same old thing: new conservatives will say, “Of course it was wrong to be against this free market healthcare law, but this new law?! Never!”
The question is whether America as a whole will continue to act like the voters of Wisconsin and Maine. Enjoying your “right to work” Wisconsin? It’s coming for you too Maine. And while we wait, working poor people will die because of lack of insurance. If you voted for Walker or LePage, well, you’re hopeless. If you didn’t vote, I don’t know what you are doing reading this; you should be out doing penance — feeding the poor, curing the sick, shipping me piles of cash. As for the rest of you, well, I feel your pain.