Last month, Gov. Steve Bullock began his pitch to expand Medicaid in our state, adding 70,000 Montanans to a failing federal program. Despite attempts to ignore the facts, it remains that Medicaid is a program that has serious solvency issues and ongoing problems with fraud and abuse. It does not address the need for additional providers. Medicaid reimbursement to doctors and hospitals is lower than private insurance, causing “cost-shifting” on a national scale.
This is not “free money” — it is taxpayer money. Any jobs created are taxpayer-supported jobs. Any services provided are taxpayer-funded services. The cost, and the burden, to the taxpayer can only go up, putting an ever-increasing amount of water into a leaky bucket. It’s been described as a “budget-buster” by each state. Wisconsin states that fully half of its budget deficit is attributable to Medicaid.
“Awards” are given to states that sign up the most new members, and in order to get the federal money, it’s mandated that you cannot decrease the numbers. This is not helping the poor, it is creating them. A sugar-coated fishhook is still a fishhook
Something that I do agree with Gov. Bullock on: “We need a Montana-made solution … .” Yes, we do. We need to grow private-sector jobs in Montana that will add to the state’s bottom line, not detract from it. As one of the “50 laboratories of innovation,” Montana can surely do it better, more efficiently and with more caring than a rapacious federal government, but nobody says it will be easy. This could be a golden opportunity to reform our state’s dependence on a program, not to grow it. Accepting this Medicaid expansion is, at best, a short-term fix at the expense of a long-term solution. It consigns people to poverty and taxpayers to a treadmill they will never escape.
Linda Prescott, Glendive