Earlier this week, we published a fact check of the claims by Governor John Kasich and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor that that expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would costs the State of Ohio hundreds of millions of dollars.
One of the reasons for this Fact Check was that the mainstream media had simply reported the claims of Kasich and Taylor without any analysis to see whether they were . . . we are reaching for the right word here . . . true.
Since that time, the Mainstream Media has started, ever so tentatively, like a rabbit approaching some food, to do its job.
A quick recap: the Affordable Care Act permits Ohio to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals and families who have incomes up to 133% of the Federal poverty level.
This is important: Kasich and Taylor do not claim that the expansion of Medicaid will cost the state money because of this expansion – because the federal government picks up about 97% of the cost over the next ten years. Instead, they claim that the ACA will cost Ohio money because a large number of people who were previously eligible for Medicaid but who did not participate will now join the program.
Kasich and Taylor are, as we explained, both right and wrong. They are right that Ohio WILL incur some Medicaid increased costs. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, total state spending on Medicaid will increase by about 2.8 percent. Note that this is much less than the amounts claimed by the Kasich Administration.
However, they are wrong because those increased Medicaid costs will be offset by decreases in costs of providing coverage to the indigent and uninsured. The best source on this issue remains the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. We won’t get into the details again, but instead recommend reading this report, which concludes that by shrinking this number the ACA “will ease cost pressures on states for uncompensated hospital care, mental health care, and other health care services.” Our favorite part of the report is the review of the experience in Massachusetts in implementing Romneycare: “Massachusetts’ experience with its health reform efforts offers evidence that expanding coverage under a comprehensive health reform plan can lead to sizeable reductions in state costs for uncompensated care.”
That brings us to two recent efforts by Republican leaning members of the Mainstream Media to shed some light on this issues.
First, the Plain Dealer. Sunday’s article focused on the uncertainty faced by Hospitals as a result of Kasich’s failure to make a decsion about this issue. The article included this important piece of information from a major health provider that supports the conclusion that the net costs to the state will be far less then claimed by Kasich and Taylor: “MetroHealth, like all hospitals, agreed to reductions in other federal and state payments because they believed they would get the infusion of money from the Medicaid program’s expansion. ‘Part of the justification for reducing rates is that we would have fewer people with uncompensated care. . . . you’re going to have less charity care because more people are covered,’ said Steve Glass, chief financial officer for the Cleveland Clinic, adding ‘the concern the providers are going to have is if the state doesn’t expand the Medicaid program.’”
Second, the Kasich Administration Paper of Record, the Columbus Dispatch. On Sunday the paper reported on new cost estimates from Kasich and Taylor for the expansion of Medicaid. A Hat Tip to reporter Catherine Candisky, who did some actual reporting on this issue. The article dares to ask the question: “So is the lofty price tag legitimate? Or did the Kasich administration cook the books because it condemns ‘Obamacare’?” The article quotes some studies that contradict Kasich and Taylor, but unfortunately gets a bit lost in the weeds in a partisan back and forth about exactly how many Ohioans already eligible for Medicaid will sign up, as well as some accounting changes. The big problem with the Dispatch article is that it buys into the Kasich approach of focusing solely on Medicaid costs, and ignoring the fact that any increased Medicaid costs will be offset by decreases in costs of providing coverage to the indigent and uninsured.
So: Kudos Mainstream Media. You are starting to ask the right questions about Kasich’s and Taylor’s claims on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. It’s a good start. Keep going!