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:
— Nick Smith (@NSmithReports) February 20, 2013
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.