My Florida Voices column today talks about how conservatives are looking at the wrong figures when they complain about Medicaid expansion. I figure that I might was well take the lipstick of the Tallahassee pigs, too.
The James Madison Institute, a conservative think-tank based in Tallahassee, recently released a policy brief on Medicaid expansion in Florida under the federal Affordable Care Act.
The James Madison Institute is agin’ it, which should be no surprise.
The brief, “Florida’s Best Medicaid Option under the PPACA: Expand the Reforms, Not the Rolls,” argues that the Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will result in nearly doubling the number of enrollees at substantial cost to the state and federal governments.
“Florida can barely afford its current $21 billion Medicaid program now so it would not be wise policy to expand it,” wrote the brief’s author, Jason Fodeman, M.D., a James Madison Institute adjunct scholar. “From a policy standpoint, it is frustrating that the government spends so much on a program with so little return, but it is far more frustrating and stressful for those patients who desperately depend on Medicaid for care and cannot find it.”
Dr. Fodeman is focusing on the wrong number.
The real issue isn’t the cost of expanding Medicaid to provide health insurance for all Floridians. No, the issue is that we have so many people living so near the federal poverty level.
In 2012, for an individual to be eligible at no more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level meant an annual income of $15,415. For a family of three, that annual income was $26,344. The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates that Florida has 29 percent of its population living below the 138 percent threshold.