Republican legislators’ fears about Medicaid expansion, particularly the version now awaiting the governor’s likely veto, make no sense.
I’m a numbers geek, and the numbers reported on the current proposal are: three years bringing in a million dollars a day – more than $1 billion – for a total cost to Maine taxpayers of less than $1 million. That’s a 1,000-to-1 return on investment.
Further, the nature of health care spending is that it will almost all be spent here in Maine, which, in turn, creates a multiplier benefit for Maine’s economy.
With 60,000 to 70,000 more people receiving health care services, there also will be a need for more health care employees – good-paying jobs generating even more economic benefits. This is the kind of investment we should be fighting to get in Maine – at only a small percent of the cost Gov. LePage is proposing to spend, hoping to attract new business to Maine.
But this is a real “bird in the hand,” not “a bird in the bush.” Furthermore, more than 80 percent of this expansion’s cost can be paid for by terminating the Department of Health and Human Services’ Alexander contract in light of their deeply flawed performance.
These calculations are all in line with the reputable national analysis of benefits to states from groups like the Urban Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Commonwealth Fund. So why the Chicken Little “the sky is falling” attitude?
Most importantly, Mainers’ lives are on the line. Without the expansion, some people needing care but unable to afford it will die – a statistical fact.
Legislators who choose not to overturn a LePage veto had better be ready to defend their decision to constituent survivors of those who die because of their action – because they actually will be the so-called “Obamacare death panel.”
retired colonel, U.S. Air Force