We’ve been told by the highest court in the land that the Affordable Care Act is indeed constitutional. Well, shoot… But there is still a bit of good news: the states can refuse to expand the Medicaid rolls without being penalized by the federal government. This essentially gives them (the states) an escape clause.
Is this that rarest of things, the perfect prenup? It appears to be. States with governors who recognize the inherent moral and economic problems in taking money from Peter in order to pay for Paul’s medical expenses can refuse to expand to Medicaid without worrying about having their existing Medicaid funding rescinded.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida issued a statement saying:
Florida will opt out of spending approximately $1.9 billion more taxpayer dollars required to implement a massive entitlement expansion of the Medicaid program.
Medicaid is a failed a program. To expand this program is not unlike adding a thousand people to the Titanic. You’re going to further drive this country into debt. You don’t expand a program that is not working already.
The criticism we’re hearing from the Left is that those governors planning on rejecting outright the additional Medicaid funds (Perry, Scott, Haley, Jindal, et al) from the federal government are in states with the highest rates of uninsured people. Thus, the states that stand to benefit the most are the ones choosing to opt out. This drives advocates of big government programs crazy. Why would people act ‘against their own economic interest?!?’
This argument comes around every time someone votes not to tax someone else who has more money. If you flip this question on its head, or place it in another context other than government taxation, you could phrase it like this: ‘Would you use force to take what someone else had earned in order to pay for your own bills?’ As soon as we take away the veil of legitimacy provided by the state, we see the sort of person who poses that sort of question for what they really are – thugs who misuse the force of government.
Even last week’s Economist didn’t quite phrase it right. Referring to the states that intend to take additional Medicaid funding as “happy to accept Washington’s cash,” it forgets that Washington HAS no cash except what it takes from individuals to begin with. Refusing to expand Medicaid might not be the best move politically, and it might bring some pain in the short term, but it is a principled move on the part of the governors. More should consider doing likewise.
Check out this video from the late, great Nobel Laureate Economist Milton Friedman: