As the Second Regular Session of the 126th Legislature began at the State House, Maine’s largest extremist left wing organization turned out in force to demand the costly expansion of medical welfare under Obamacare. With their unwavering commitment to raising your taxes yet again, perhaps it’s time for our legislators to revisit Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The last expansion of medical welfare saw lowered eligibility requirements ballooning welfare enrollment, created a massive hospital debt (which proponents were against paying until they were for it), annual budget shortfalls, and led to tax increases and funding cuts to other state programs. The latest proposal would add 70,000 to 100,000 able-bodied adults (including 60% under the age of 45 and 75% singles) to the Medicaid rolls at a cost to the state of $800 million over the next decade.
Medical welfare expenditures currently consume one of every four dollars the state spends, double what we spent a decade ago. Even without expansion, these costs are expected to grow from the current 24% to 36% in the next 10 years.
How much would your family budget have left to spend on necessities if 24% of your paycheck – after already onerous taxes – was eaten up (especially by something you don’t even benefit from)? You would have to make some sacrifices in other areas. But this is the tax and spend-controlled State House, where things like balancing budgets versus handing out taxpayer-funded wealth redistribution gifts to potential voters takes priority over fiscal responsibility – and legislative accountability. Hence the latest Medicaid-induced budget shortfall – $119 million.
And speaking of family budgets, 1.8 hard working taxpayers are currently paying for 1 Medicaid recipient. If this bill passes, it is estimated that the ratio will go down to 1.3 taxpayers:1 recipient – almost one taxpayer supporting one recipient!
Remember: Maine has more people dying than being born, so there will be fewer people footing the tax bill, not to mention larger numbers of Mainers taking, not giving, as they move to Medicaid. You know how when you donate to an international charity they send you a picture of the particular person you are supporting? Well, that will be each Maine taxpayer, except the particular person they will be supporting will be another Mainer. Would this be considered a charitable deduction?
If proponents really care both about protecting Maine taxpayers and expanding insurance coverage, there is another option they should consider. Obamacare is a disaster which will cripple our economy when fully implemented. But it does have a provision which would provide about half the people who would be eligible under the proposed expansion with heavily subsidized private health insurance on the exchange, with plans costing between $4-10 per week – about the cost of a pack of cigarettes. Bonus points: Recipients have skin in the game!
The rest of the able-bodied adults would be eligible if they earned at least $220 per week, which, for a minimum wage job, is about 30 hours/week. More bonus points: An incentive to work!
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty. As we head to the November election, we should be asking why, after spending $16 trillion, is expansion needed at all if tax and spend policies offer solutions to get Mainers out of poverty? Are we any nearer to eradicating poverty than we were fifty or even ten years ago? Do we have fewer people needing medical welfare? Subsidized housing? Heating assistance? Think carefully before answering: Tax and spenders ruled the entire Maine roost (as well as Congress) during almost all of that time, so the programs in place are those they have largely designed.
Oh, and those 3,100 disabled, elderly and truly needy on the waitlists for home care and nursing homes that desperately need our compassion and help? When proponents get done doling out the goodies, these poor souls will still be left right where they are – out in the cold. But then again, 70,000 -100,000 potential voters vs 3,100 – well, for those who are using the hard-earned tax dollars of Maine’s working citizens to further their own ends, this is a no brainer.
We elect our officials to be responsible stewards of our hard-earned tax dollars. The Medicaid expansion bill before our legislators now was reintroduced despite legislative rules prohibiting the reintroduction of a bill that has already been defeated – which should tell you something about anyone, Democrat or Republican, who votes for it.