Federal Medicaid Pledges Hollow
West Virginia is being forced to cut government services in order to keep the existing Medicaid program afloat. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says it may even be necessary to take money out of the “Rainy Day” fund that had been set aside for dire emergencies.
Yet federal law – President Barack Obama’s health care takeover – orders the state to expand Medicaid by more than 30 percent. It is almost as if Obama, after exploding the national debt, is trying to force responsible states like ours to follow suit.
Liberals in Congress join the president in claiming expansion of Medicaid won’t cost West Virginia anything. That is not true.
Tomblin wants more information on what adding 130,000 new West Virginians to the 420,000 already on Medicaid will do to the state’s budget.
Our state already is struggling to pay for the existing Medicaid program. For the coming year, Tomblin and lawmakers have to find an additional $130 million to meet the state’s share of costs. That already has prompted the governor to order many state agencies to cut spending by 7.5 percent.
It is about to get worse. Medicaid is funded partly by the state and partly by the federal government. Washington already has reduced the percentage it covers – and will cut it even more next year.
Tomblin is being assured the expansion will be paid for in Washington, we suspect. Again, not true.
For one thing, the federal pledge covers only the added cost of benefits. West Virginia would still have to pay the enormous new bill for administering benefits for 130,000 people.
In addition, Obamacare calls for Washington to pay for expanded Medicaid programs only until 2018, then to drop to 90 percent of full payment.
Remember, the federal government is steadily reducing the percentage of costs it covers for the existing Medicaid system in West Virginia.
Last year, the bipartisan State Budget Crisis Task Force, with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker as vice chairman, warned every federal deficit reduction plan being discussed in Washington includes abandoning the 90 percent Medicaid match.
West Virginians are being played for suckers by Obama and liberal lawmakers. We shouldn’t fall for it by expanding the Medicaid program.