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Letters to the Editor
 

Pricey Medicaid expansion


Russell W. Jones September 14th, 2012

The letter from D.W. Tiffee (“Medicaid expansion vital,” Aug. 1, Oklahoma Gazette) uses some pretty shaky arguments and assumptions to make his point that Medicaid should be expanded.

Tiffee assumes that the money collected from hospitals in the form of a 2-percent provider fee will not be passed on to those using non-Medicaid forms of payment for hospital services. This assumption is ridiculous. Of course the hospitals will pass it on to their paying customers.

Tiffee and those who support his position believe that money from the federal government is like manna from heaven. However, the federal government can only borrow the money it will spend on expanded Medicaid from China, collect it from taxpayers, or fire up the printing presses. Federal government money sent to Oklahoma does not come from the Easter bunny or Santa Claus. It comes from taxpayers or consumers.

Tiffee misleads readers by reporting that in 2020 the expanded Medicaid program will cost Oklahoma $32 per person per month. I guess he assumes there will be no inflation over the next eight years. If inflation was reported honestly, I believe this cost will be at least 50 percent higher than the figure Tiffee reported. However, expecting honesty from the federal government is perhaps expecting too much.

If one uses Tiffee’s figures and assumes an 8-to-1 federal match, the cost per individual for Medicaid coverage would be $288 per month, not the $32 per month per covered individual that he asserts. That equals $3,656 per year for one person. For a Medicaid household of five persons, this would cost us $18,260 per year in taxes, debt or devalued currency.

Since 1964, we have spent more than $7 trillion in the “war on poverty” and we are no nearer to eliminating poverty. Continuing to dole out massive amounts for programs like Medicaid only encourages nonproductive behavior by an increasingly large segment of our population.

Why work when everything is free?

—Russell W. Jones, Guthrie

 
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