Medicaid is high cost for low quality

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Diane Phillips describes Medicaid as a way to save lives at a low cost in her Nov. 20 Perspectives article (“Save Lives at Low Cost: Pennsylvania Should Expand Medicaid Now, Negotiate Later”), but it does precisely the opposite. Medicaid is actually a high-cost program that offers limited, low-quality care for the poor.

The proof? One in three doctors will not take new Medicaid patients, meaning limited access and more — high-cost — emergency room use. In fact, a study published by the American Medical Association found adult Medicaid patients were three times more likely than the uninsured to use an emergency room for primary care. And a recent Oregon study found no evidence that Medicaid improves the physical health of enrollees.

Medicaid is the single most expensive item in the state budget, consuming about 30 cents of every dollar you send to Harrisburg. Expanding Medicaid in Pennsylvania will add $43 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That “free money” from Washington is nothing more than deficit spending — bills we’re passing on to the next generation.

More government involvement has proved to be a disaster for health care in this country. It won’t be easy, but we must undo years of regulations and mandates that have driven up health care costs, not worsen the problem by making the disease out to be the cure.

Policy Analyst
Commonwealth Foundation

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