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Democrats’ Massive Medicaid Expansion Will Leave Millions with Little More than an Insurance Card

March 16, 2010

The Democrats’ Senate-passed health overhaul includes a $400 billion expansion of the Medicaid program.  In fact, according to the independent and non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) almost half of all the newly insured individuals (15 million) will be dumped into Medicaid.

Entitlement expansion is not reform and adding more people and costs to a faltering program will only add to Medicaid’s problems and state budget woes.  Worse yet, as reported in the New York Times many of those newly eligible for Medicaid would find access to doctors and timely care severely restricted.  Medicaid problems, as noted in the article, that will be exacerbated by Obamacare include: 

  • Inability to find a doctor willing to treat Medicaid patients: 
    • “With states squeezing payments to providers… [Medicaid] patients are finding it increasingly difficult to locate doctors and dentists who will accept their coverage.”
    • “[S]urveys show the share of doctors accepting new Medicaid patients is declining.”
    • “Dr. Sahouri informed [cancer patient Carol Vliet] …that he could no longer see her because, like a growing number of doctors, he had stopped taking patients with Medicaid.”
    • “Medicaid enrollees in Michigan’s midsection have grown accustomed to long journeys for care. This month, Shannon M. Brown of Winn skipped work to drive her 8-year-old son more than two hours for a five-minute consultation with Dr. Mukkamala. Her pediatrician could not find a specialist any closer who would take Medicaid, she said.  Later this month, she will take the predawn drive again so Dr. Mukkamala can remove her son’s tonsils and adenoids. ‘He’s going to have to sit in the car for three hours after his surgery,’ Mrs. Brown said. ‘I’m not looking forward to that one.’”  
  • Long waiting lines for those lucky enough to find a physician
    • In Flint, MI, “Waits for an appointment at the city’s federally subsidized health clinic, where most patients have Medicaid, have lengthened to four months from six weeks in 2008.”  
  • Inadequate reimbursements for doctors:  
    • “The MidMichigan Medical Center in Clare, about 90 miles northwest of Flint, closed its obstetrics unit last year because Medicaid reimbursements covered only 65 percent of actual costs. Two other hospitals in the region might follow suit, potentially leaving 16 contiguous counties without obstetrics.”
    • “Dr. Sahouri said that his reimbursements from Medicaid were so low…that he was losing money every time a patient walked in his exam room.”  
  • Expanded reliance on costly emergency rooms for primary care:  
    • “As physicians limit their Medicaid practices, emergency rooms are seeing more patients who do not need acute care.”
    • “Inevitably, many defer care or wind up in hospital emergency rooms.”  

What good is health reform if you cannot find a pediatrician for your child, a doctor to treat your cancer, have to drive hours to find a physician, or still rely on the emergency room for standard care?  Sadly, this is what the Democrats’ government takeover of health care is offering millions of Americans.