Kevin Drum wrote the best headline I’ve seen all week, Red States Spent $2 Billion in 2015 to Screw the Poor. It is based upon a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The information from it alone is amazing. It looked at data for fiscal year 2015. And it found that states that accepted the Medicaid expansion saw their Medicaid expenses go up by 3.4%. But for states that did not expand Medicaid, their Medicaid expenses went up 6.9% — even more than the recent average of roughly 6.1%. Let’s be clear here: this isn’t per capita spending; this is total spending. So the Medicaid expansion states are covering vastly more people and seeing their costs rise much slower.
Drum looked at what the red states spent on Medicaid in 2014 ($61 billion), and took the difference in the growth rates. So in 2015, they spent $65.3 billion. But if they had taken the Medicaid expansion, we can assume their costs would only be $63.1 billion. Thus, they did indeed spend more than $2 billion. Now I’m not sure that we can say that they did it specifically to screw the poor. That was certainly the result. But I think it is more correct that they don’t have a cogent explanation for why they haven’t taken the Medicaid expansion. It seems to be some ridiculous notion that if they just hold out, Obamacare will be destroyed. (Even if you grant that this might have once been a reasonable notion, it no longer is.)
The other side of this is that the states that have opted out of the Medicaid expansion are still paying into it. That’s what’s so crazy about the whole thing. The states that did not expand Medicaid are still paying a combined total of $20 billion in taxes for a program that they refuse to accept benefits from. This is in distinct opposition to how these people look at Social Security. Conservatives always justify taking the commie plot Social Security money under the rationale that they paid into it. And they are right! But here, no way.
Of course, we all know what’s really going on. The people don’t think in these terms. In fact, they wouldn’t even care about this issue if the party elites and Fox News hadn’t made such a big deal of the fact that Obamacare was the end of freedom as we know it. But these people don’t look at budgets. They don’t see that billions are going out for the program that they refuse to accept benefits from. But the Republican legislators and governors do. But they keep going with this because they are cowards and they’ve been trapped by their own “cunning” plans.
The good news is that numbers like these indicate the the red states will soon start taking the Medicaid money. We just have to wait until Obama is out of the White House. Then the conservatives will forget that they ever said he was born in Kenya. And they will forget that he was determined to destroy America. And, “Oh, look at all this money we’re throwing away; it just makes sense to get back money we are forced to send to the federal government!” And for the first time in a long time, these Republicans will be right.