Nothing says “solving the health care crisis” like hearing more people onto government health care.
North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has begun to cave on Obamacare. In addition to hinting that North Dakota might be willing to deploy one of the law’s health care exchanges through a state/federal partnership, Dalrymple has also put the law’s expansion of Medicaid into his Human Services budget.
So what might the expansion of Medicaid mean for North Dakota? A more than 46% increase in the number of people on Medicaid according to the Associated Press:
North Dakota’s Medicaid program now covers about 65,000 people a month. The state Department of Human Services estimates the proposed expansion would add another 30,000 people. North Dakota officials are now considering the expansion. Under the new Affordable Care Act, the federal government would cover the full cost of expanding Medicaid through 2016, with the state’s contribution rising in stages to 10 percent.
The feds will pick up to the “full cost” until 2016, and according to Dalrymple that’s just free money (yes, he really said that), but setting aside the fact that our federal government is in dire fiscal straights and that we North Dakota taxpayers are also federal taxpayers, what about the cost to the state after 2016?
How often do we see the federal government expand programs like this, only to push off much of the expense for the programs onto the states in the future?
As I’ve written before, this expansion of Medicaid is key to making Obamacare work nationally. That alone should be enough to nix any implementation of the law in this state that continues to be overwhelmingly opposed to that law. But even setting that aside, shouldn’t we be worried about what this dramatic expansion of Medicaid might cost the state down the road?