NC Medicaid expansion would add to dependence

The Democrats’ plan for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina is not just bad policy, it is also dangerous because it reflects the left’s use of dishonest rhetoric and misleading math to vastly increase the power of government.

Democrats claim that Medicaid expansion is necessary to provide health coverage to an estimated half million residents who can’t get insurance. That is false. As Sen. Phil Berger noted on these pages about 60 percent of those individuals already qualify for employer based insurance or government subsidized health care through Obamacare.

The remaining 40%, Berger observed, are not low-income children, pregnant women or severely disabled individuals – they are already covered by government programs. Instead, the vast majority “are able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 50.”

Berger’s numbers provide a useful way to look at how Democrats want to spend the estimated $2 billion per year expansion would cost in state and federal dollars. Subtracting the individuals who can otherwise get insurance, we would be spending that money to address the coverage gap for 200,000 North Carolinians.

As inefficient and ineffective as government is — there is little evidence so far that expansion has significantly improved health outcomes and plenty of cases of fraud and abuse as ineligible people sign up for benefits — this spending raises the unasked question of whether there is a better way to help relatively young, able-bodied people receive care?

The answer, of course, is complicated. But the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that the premium for employer-based coverage (which is much more expensive than Medicaid) was $6,896 for individuals last year.

Focus on the coverage gap is a ruse. The Democrats’ real aim — as evidenced by their inclusion of so many people with access to coverage — is to explode the number of Americans dependent on government.

That’s’ why we must not look at Medicaid expansion in isolation. It is not a policy designed to solve a specific problem but one prong of an energized Democrat push to expand the welfare state so that collective government action, not individual choice, is the organizing principle of American society.

This is pure demagoguery. It ignores reams of data showing that the standard of living has risen for almost every American during the last few decades; more recently, unemployment has been falling and wages rising.

Nevertheless, Democrats are proposing a cavalcade of redistribution schemes that make Medicaid expansion look like chump change: Taxpayer financed college and health care, cancellation of student debt, reparations for slavery and a green new deal that includes a guaranteed income.

Liberals have a limitless view of inequality. Now it’s not just rich individuals, but rich nations that have a moral duty to share their ill-gotten gains (racism at home, colonialism abroad) with the world’s downtrodden.

In this worldview concepts like citizenship and private property are unjust levers of powers. It asserts that everything belongs to everyone – and the government’s role is divvy it all up. That’s the dangerous idea driving Medicaid expansion.

Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@jpederzane.com.