Journalist Misstates the Facts on Medicaid Expansion

I randomly picked up Wednesday’s copy of “Indy” in a coffee shop.  The title caught my eye, “The Legislature’s Disgraceful Two Weeks.”  I  mean, Wow. That’s quite a title! So, of course, I had to pick it up.

I turned to page 7 and read the “Block Obamacare” paragraph and almost choked when I read the paragraph.  The statements written were patently untrue. Forgive my naivety, but isn’t there some sort of oath for journalists to at least attempt to state the truth?

I felt obligated to explain how the Indy failed to publish the correct facts.

First sentence: “The Affordable Health Care Act would extend Medicaid (government health insurance for poor people) to 500,000 North Carolinians who don’t currently qualify – at essentially no cost to the State.”

No cost to the State??? Seriously? Where did these facts come from??? Reality: According to an economic study in the New York Times, should North Carolina expand Medicaid, between 2014-2019, North Carolina would have to contribute approximately $1.029 Billion. Yes, Billion!!!  If you think $1.029 billion is “essentially no cost,” please send me a check for a few million. Make it out to my name please.

Second sentence: “Nonetheless, Senate and House Republicans have said they don’t want the money.”

What? They don’t want the money? The sentence makes it sounds like the federal government is passing around a basket full of money and asking the states to take what they want. Not only is this sentence incorrect, it is misleading.  There is no free basket full of money  for everyone.  And no one in the General Assembly (I feel confident this is correct, although it has not been corroborated) is refusing free money.

The choice to not expand Medicaid is predicated on a plethora of reasons. One reason off the top of my head, is that, according to the recent audit conducted on DMA, yearly, DMA spent approximately $648.8 million on administration costs.  Proponents of Medicaid expansion have said that Medicaid expansion would create jobs. Guess where? DMA. Let’s ADD to the administration costs instead of reeling them in….Really???? This is similar to the mentality I had as a teenager: I know I’m doing something wrong, but unless my parents find out, so what?

Third sentence: “The bill to block the expansion is en route to the House with the backing of Gov. Pat McCrory.”

Ok, that was the only sentence somewhat true with one large difference. In reality, Gov. McCrory has been extremely hesitant to rush the decision of whether to expand Medicaid. He urged lawmakers not to rush.

So after reading the paragraph preceding the article, I was terrified to actually read the article.  But much like a train wreck happening in front of you, I couldn’t resist.

My favorite line: “It’s long been apparent that Republicans should have no credibility on the question of fiscal prudence.”

Once I read that sentence, I laughed out loud. Obviously, this journalist suffers from extreme parochial vision and has made the topic a “Republicans v. Democrats” debate. People, who cares what political side you are on? Medicaid recipients deserve quality care and enough health care providers to care for the entire Medicaid population (currently around 1.5 million in North Carolina).  Right now, in North Carolina, Medicaid recipients cannot find physicians, psychologists, dentists, or specialty physicians willing to accept Medicaid patients.

Fix that!!

Enable the 1.5 million North Carolinians, to whom we owe a duty to provide health care, to receive quality health care.  Personally, if I were on the cusp of receiving Medicaid, and I knew that, through  Medicaid expansion, I could get the Medicaid card, but not find a doctor willing to accept me (or if I found one to accept me that I wouldn’t get all the tests or procedures that someone with private insurance would undergo), I would choose to say, “No, to unequal health care.”

About kemanuel

Medicare and Medicaid Regulatory Compliance Litigator

Posted on February 15, 2013, in Affordable Care Act, Division of Medical Assistance, Federal Law, Health Care Providers and Services, Legislation, Medicaid, Medicaid Expansion, Medicaid Funds, Medicaid Recipients, Medicaid Reform, NC DHHS, North Carolina, Obamacare and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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