Expanding Medicaid In North Dakota Would Be Short Sighted


Governor Jack Dalrymple has broken ranks with Republican opponents of Obamacare nationally and slipped the expansion of Medicaid, called for in the Obamacare law, into his budget. Dalrymple’s case for the expansion? The federal government is paying for it (at least in the short term) and Dalrymple thinks that’s “no cost” money.

Because we, uh, don’t pay federal taxes in North Dakota or something?

It’s a major expansion. According to estimates from the Department of Health, the program would grow by 46% (or 30,000 people), and while the federal government (which, given the huge national deficits, can hardly afford it) is promising to pick up the tab through 2016 the expense of the program will almost certainly be dumped on the state once the expansion is entrenched in law.

What’s more, a partial expansion of the Medicaid program has already begun. State Senator Tim Mathern got an expansion of Medicaid for pregnant women embedded in an anti-abortion bill which passed the state Senate earlier this week.

Today, as a bill to expand the Medicaid program gets a hearing in a House committee, Dalrymple is getting some support from a dozen groups which have signed a letter supporting the expansion of Medicaid. According to Bismarck Tribune reporter Nick Smith, among the signers are the AARP, the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the North Dakota Medical Association and the Catholics:

You really have to marvel at how short-sighted some of these groups are. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance, no doubt wants Medicaid (and the taxpayers) as a landing pad for member employees who are pushed off their employer health insurance plans by Obamacare. But why in the world are the Catholics backing this?

“[T]he federal government’s respect for believers and people of conscience no longer measures up to the treatment Americans have a right to expect from their elected representatives,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore is quoted as saying in a posting on the ND Catholic Conference website. “The new approach even threatens to undermine access to quality health care, by telling providers as well as those who offer or purchase insurance that they need to drop their participation in the health care system if they want to preserve their religious and moral integrity.”

It’s hard to imagine how the Catholics can both fear the federal government’s streamrolling of religions conscience in health care policy mandates while simultaneously advocating for the expansion of federal health care programs which are the instruments of that sort of oppression.

The Catholics push for the expansion of Medicaid at the potential expense of their own conscience. Given what they’re going through with the contraception mandate, you’d think they’d have learned their lesson about government health care, but apparently not.

Regardless, Republican legislators tell me the Medicaid expansion is DOA in the state House. Let’s hope that’s true, because the expansion is bad for North Dakota. And, if North Dakota joins other states in passing the expansion, it’s just another nail in the coffin for any semblance of private sector health care in America.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • WOOF

    Teabags react to Obamacare: “I’d rather be blind.”

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Right. We shouldn’t think about this policy. We shouldn’t ask where the money will come from, or what the actual outcomes in terms of care might be.

      We should just turn off our brains and feel that it’s a good thing.

      • WOOF

        Legacy fund fund $841,777,629.66.

        You, your parents , your child, could be on Medicaid in a NY minute.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          Why would I want to be dependent on the state for my health care?

          Also, you clearly don’t know how the Legacy Fund works.

          • WOOF

            I don’t know how the Legacy Fund works.
            Money is money.
            People are always criticizing it’s fungibility.

      • dakotacyr

        Then you should support Obamacare, since it is moving to outcomes based health care.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          It’s moving us to outcomes based on government decisions, not individual decisions.

          • dakotacyr

            If by individual decisions, you mean the insurance companies making the decision on what care you get, then I guess so, but I doubt that’s what you meant. Insurance companies decide if you get a surgery, how long you stay in the hospital, what kind and length of therapy you get.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            Changing insurance companies is a lot easier than changing governments.

  • whowon

    AARP threw their tremendous power behind the legislation despite the fact they
    were getting calls overwhelmingly against it. Thanks to released emails from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we
    now know that AARP worked through 2009-2010 as an extension of a Democratic
    White House, toiling daily to pass a health bill that slashes $716 billion from
    Medicare, strips seniors of choice, and sets the stage for rationing. We know
    that despite AARP’s awareness that its seniors overwhelmingly opposed the bill,
    the ‘nonpartisan organization’ chose to serve the president’s agenda. Send all AARP mailings back to them…in their prepaid envelope. Is there a copy of this letter?

  • Camburn

    We are all paying for this already via higher hospital/doctor rates.
    I would actually expect the expansion to reduce the cost to all of us as emergency room visits would decline.

    Let’s examine this issue closer.

  • ctd

    You are confusing Medicaid with the HHS Mandate. Medicaid does not have the conscience problems posed by the HHS Mandate. Catholic hospitals and nursing homes have worked with Medicaid for decades without problems regarding religious liberty and conscience.

    Just because one federal health care program is problematic does not mean that they all are problematic. The Catholic bishops of the United States have supported universal health care since 1917. They have consistently supported expansion of Medicaid. It’s opposition to the ACA was limited solely to its lack of conscience and religious protections, its funding of abortion, and its failure to adequately cover immigrants. In short, support by the Catholic bishop and Catholic health care facilities for the expansion of Medicaid in North Dakota is consistent with past postions and should not come as a surprise.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I’m not confusing anything.

      As the bishop notes, it’s hard to trust the federal government to respect things such as our right of conscience.

      Which makes it baffling why you guys are supporting an expansion of government health care.

      It’s short sighted, and it is surprising. And extremely hypocritical.

      • ctd

        Archbishop Lori was referring to one program, not every federal program. Like I said, we have decades of experience with Medicaid. It does not infringe upon a health care provider’s right of conscience. The position of the bishops and Catholic health care facilities would only be hypocritical if Medicaid presented those problems. Then, of course, opposing the HHS mandate on the one hand and supporting Medicaid expansion on the other would be inconsistent. But that is not the case here.

        • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

          Like I said, we have decades of experience with Medicaid. It does not infringe upon a health care provider’s right of conscience.

          It doesn’t…yet. Which just goes to show how short sighted you’re being. Now that Medicaid is being used as the defacto safety net for Obamacare? It’s coming. And I’m sure you guys, after being cheerleaders for the expansion, will expect conservatives to back your objections.

          It’s amazing to me that you’ll fight tooth and nail for the right not to have to pay for someone’s condoms, but you’ll go all-in on supporting the expansion of government health care in general. As if such an expansion weren’t a threat to all our individual rights.

          • dakotacyr

            That’s because you don’t understand the social justice teachings of the Catholic church.

          • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

            It’s true, the Catholic Church doesn’t always make a lot of sense to me, but I wouldn’t call sticking the coming generations of Americans with the bill for huge health care entitlement programs “social justice.”

  • WOOF

    Florida Governor Rick Scott folds his tent and buys into Obamacare
    “To be clear: our options are either having Floridians pay to fund this
    program in other states while denying health care to our citizens,” he
    said, “or using federal funding to help some of the poorest in our state
    with the Medicaid program as we explore other health care reforms.”

    • dakotacyr

      Yup, he folded like a cheap suit. He cited his mother trying to raise 5 kids and fighting to get his brother health care when he was sick as the reason for the medicaid expansion. Where was he last year and the year before. Now all of a sudden he gets a conscience. I love these republican governors, they all are folding when the realization hit them that Obama will be president for another 4 years and Obamacare is the law of the land.

  • WOOF

    They should have a sign on the hospitals of “conscience”

    to alert pregnant women that their lives are a secondary consideration.

    • borborygmi

      Port should wear that sign around his neck. Rob Janus Port , ” Damn it I didn’t make you pregnant and I am not going to fund your pregnancy” “Its you tough luck your pregnant. I believe in right to life and children should be taken care of (as long as it is not by me) Oh and if they do survive and get to school they don’t need milk!”

  • camsaure

    Damn RINO