WATERS: Obamacare's Win is Kentucky's Loss
By Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute
LEXINGTON, KY - A new Washington-ABC News poll released Oct. 21 found that 56 percent of those surveyed believe, as Time magazine reported, the “website glitches” in Obamacare’s rollout are “part of a broader problem with the health care law.”
Supporters of the federal health-reform policy here in Kentucky, however, are hailing its success. They note that 10,000 applications were initiated on the first day of the commonwealth’s health exchange website.
But does that response alone ensure that poor and uninsured Kentuckians will get access to the quality care they have been led- or misled- to believe they will receive?
In a long, rambling piece in The Daily Beast, former Kentucky Treasurer Jonathan Miller praises Gov. Steve Beshear as some kind of Obamacare Superhero; only the mask and cape are missing.
Miller praises Beshear’s unconstitutional use in recent months of “broad executive powers” to bypass lawmakers entirely to force Obamacare’s government-run health exchanges and Medicaid expansion on the state.
He writes that these federally mandated policies will result in “access to affordable health care to our more than 640,000 uninsured citizens.”
There will be coverage, but will there be care?
I don’t disagree with the assertion atop Miller’s article: “Obamacare is Winning in Kentucky, Thanks to Steve Beshear.”
But then again, usually when a big-government policy – or leftist governor – is “winning,” the neediest often are the biggest losers.
Just like spending more money on education doesn’t automatically ensure students will get the education they need, neither does shelling out millions on websites, mandating that everyone purchase health-insurance plans full of services they neither want nor need and then declaring “Mission Accomplished” ensure that Kentuckians will actually receive the care they need.
Besides, how can this policy already be declared a “winner” when it will expand Kentucky’s Medicaid rolls by an estimated 400,000 people at a time when the Bluegrass State needs 3,700 more doctors just to meet current demands? Who will provide care for the additional enrollees?
Couple this with the fact that one out of three primary care doctors don’t accept new patients because of low reimbursement rates and delayed payments, and it seems that Obama and his Cheerleader-In-Chief in the Kentucky governor’s mansion are making some big-time promises they can’t keep.
The silliest Obamacare promise I’ve heard came from House Majority Whip Tommy Thompson, D-Owensboro, who claimed on Time Warner Cable’s “Pure Politics” that Kentucky will become more productive by forcing the individual mandate on all of its citizens and adding hundreds of thousands to the government dole.
“Our productivity will expand,” Thompson said – with a straight face – in response to a question about how the commonwealth, which already struggles to pay its bills, can afford the increased costs of a Medicaid program that could swell to 1.2 million Kentuckians.
“We have … 640,000 people that (will) eventually have more health care,” he opined. “Think what that’s going to do to the productivity of our workforce. Think about what it’s going to do to stop absenteeism. So our productivity will improve; we’ll reduce people’s bankruptcy; … we’ll help their financial security; their health security.”
So here’s a legislative leader saying that the way for Kentucky to improve productivity is for more Kentuckians to become more dependent on government health-care programs, for which there aren’t nearly enough doctors to service.
If handouts and dependency on government-run health care programs made a state more productive, shouldn’t Kentucky already be racing down the field toward lots of vibrant economic activity?
Oh yeah, and we’re still waiting for an answer: how is the state going to pay those higher Medicaid bills?
Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org