Medicaid Expansion brings economic benefits

In my recent blog posts I’ve focused my comments on the moral and social issues related to health care policy. But there is also an important economic element that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Providing healthcare to the less fortunate is an issue that requires serious contemplation. It is noble to desire improvement and action on providing healthcare to the underprivileged. What is often overlooked, is the financial capability of each state to provide that assistance.

I applaud the many who show compassion and advocate for the uninsured citizens of our country. My intention is to arm the individuals who are serious about solving our state’s health care dilemma with basic facts on the financial issues specifically related to Medicaid expansion. Here are only a few of those to consider.

–    With or without the expansion, it is projected that Utah will spend $343 million beyond our annual budget for Medicaid.

–    With expansion, Utah’s annual increase in expenditure will be $364 million.

–    This will only be an increase of 8.5% of what the state is already spending.

–    If our legislature were to vote in favor of Medicaid expansion, the federal government will pay 100% of that cost for the first three years, and thereafter the federal share will never drop below 90%.

The financial implications of expanding Medicaid are minimal compared to the increase in insured Utahns and even the creation of jobs that will likely come with expansion. Expansion will provide healthcare for 145,000 individuals currently uninsured. Bearing in mind the assistance from the federal government, certainly an 8.5% increase of the state’s annual cost for Medicaid is a worthy sacrifice.

I understand that other political issues dominate our national dialogue and deserve our attention. Just last week President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on our economy and the government’s ability to create jobs. Expanding Medicaid will help with that, too. According to the Center for American progress, it is projected that strategic healthcare reform will create between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs a year nationwide.

Next week I will outline some of the specific economic implications of healthcare expansion in Utah and the opportunity the state will have to create thousands of new jobs.

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