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February 28, 2013
Medicaid Expansion -- the New Wealth Killer
It is clear that the Democrats win by creating constituents. They use the ObamaPhones, Food Stamps, and other freebies to accomplish exactly this. The American people are all the while screaming "stop!" But they also scream, "just don't stop mine."
The evidence that public money poured out indiscriminately fosters continued government dependence is undisputed. Although not all government entitlements should be considered welfare, all entitlement programs are from the government. Most individuals drawing social security checks and Medicare benefits are justifiably recovering the dollars they paid in to support the system. That distinction is important.
With the future growth of government services available to the public, it is imperative that we know what is actually happening to Medicaid. Let me explain.
Currently to receive Medicaid coverage in most states the individual has to qualify under many different eligibility factors. This is done because most Medicaid programs are limited in funding and cannot afford to cover all the population. Many individuals do fall in the cracks, and often these individuals are the sickest. But this expansion will still not cure all these ills.
Under present eligibility guidelines and individual must fit in one of the following categories.
● Be deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration.
● Be under the age of 21.
● Be Pregnant.
● Or be the caretaker of a child under the age of 19.
Income is an eligibility factor on all of the above programs. Available resources are considered as well on many but not all programs and U.S. Citizenship and alien status is also a factor. As an aside, an individual does not have to be a U.S. Citizen to qualify for Medicaid coverage.
The new Medicaid expansion is expected to start January 1, 2014. This massively enhances the eligibility roles by eliminating the disability and caretaker requirements for individuals between the ages of 21 to 65. It also uses a much higher income limit than that previously used and does not consider resources.
For example, the income limit for an individual that is 20 years old with no children is currently $362.00 net income per month. This amount may vary slightly by state. At age 21 this individual would no longer qualify for any coverage with the exception of pregnancy or family-planning services. These limits are grossly small and are decades old. Primarily this program only fills the gap with hospitalization and emergent care. No one believes the system did not need to be improved.
Now the upcoming Medicaid Expansion will increase the income limit for that same 20 year old to slightly more than $1239.00 net income per month. This individual will potentially remain eligible at the age of 21 and older. Many states will see growth in their programs by as much as 800,000 individuals.
This program's growth will authorize so many new recipients for Medicaid that it will likely become the new ObamaPhone. Because the income limit is not at the bottom as it is now, many will choose to live within the income limits and not jeopardize that important Medicaid coverage.
The dream of being self-sufficient will most likely be traded for just making sure they don't make too much. We all know growth often comes from wanting better for yourself and your family.
I heard an old story once about an old blue tick hound that sat on the porch and would occasionally make a grievous howl. When the owner was asked why, he explained that the hound was lying on a nail. The owner was then asked why the dog didn't just get up and move, he replied... It don't hurt that much.
Robin Osborne is a retired Medicaid caseworker
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