Here’s how you can be both for assisting the poor and against expanding Medicaid eligibility:
You can see that stretching government’s supposedly helping hand beyond taxpayers’ reach ultimately hurts us all — including the poor.
You can know there’s no such thing as “free federal funding.”
You can read this first sentence from an Associated Press story on Monday’s front page of The Post and Courier:
“ATLANTA — More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, raising concerns that the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.”
Thirty states so far — but not South Carolina — have increased Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of federal poverty-level income under the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that bewildering behemoth of a law in 2012 and again last month, the first decision also struck down that more-Medicaid requirement.
Instead, states have the option to be — or not to be — part of that expansion.
Federal funding covers 100 percent of the extra Medicaid cost through 2016 before scaling down to no less than 90 percent. At least that’s the ACA’s promise.
However, even just 10 percent of a lot would be a lot for a state that, unlike the federal government, can’t print money that it doesn’t really have.
Predictably, we folks, including Gov. Nikki Haley, who oppose Medicaid expansion stand charged with not caring about Americans with incomes between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level.
So what about Americans at 140 percent, 150 percent or more of the federal poverty level? Why not move faster toward a single-player, de facto Medicare for all by growing Medicaid for all?
Inexorable demographic trends are already accelerating Medicare toward a bottom-line train wreck that threatens America’s fiscal future.
Still, we who oppose Medicaid expansion in this state don’t merely risk looking uncaring about the poor.
We risk looking uncaring about the ardent appeals made for Medicaid expansion by, among others, the late, great state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
That devoted pastor of Emanuel AME Church was among the nine good people killed in that house of worship on the awful night of June 17.
In another front-page story a few weeks ago, 6th District Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House, offered this idea:
“The Confederate battle flag is a symbol, and symbols are really powerful, but the effective way to memorialize Rev. Pinckney would be to create a ‘Clementa Pinckney Health Care Law.’ It’s a simple expansion of Medicaid — that’s all it is.”
Pinckney put it this upbeat way two years ago while speaking to voters in a Ridgeland restaurant: “I have a feeling that some of the other legislators will have a ‘Come to Jesus moment’ and see things differently and decide to be in favor of Medicaid expansion.”
And a politician far from here gave this explanation for why he pushed Medicaid expansion though in his state:
“What we’ve seen as a result of this — saved lives, there’s no question about it.”
That high-pressure pitch came not from a Democrat but from a Republican, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will launch his presidential bid today.
Kasich has pointed out, too, that “the last Republican I can think of who expanded Medicaid was Ronald Reagan.”
Yet somewhere between ruinous wealth-redistribution socialism and cruel sink-or-swim capitalism lies a truly affordable way forward — and not just on health care.
Sure, we old folks — and our employers — have long paid into Social Security and Medicare. But the ratio of payers in to takers out continues to dwindle.
Sure, the national unemployment rate is much lower than it was several years ago. But that’s due in large part to a persisting plummet in the labor-participation rate.
Sure, this utopian notion from Karl Marx, borrowed from Louis Blanc, packs a fair-play appeal: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
But who decides who gets — and who gives — what?
And how much?
Now back to a 1976 warning, habitually reprinted in this space, from Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s longest-serving prime minister (1979-90):
“Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.”
Then again, dire alarms of fiscal, cultural, military and other calamities are par for the public-forum course.
So regardless of where you stand on Medicaid, the British Open playoff format or any other divisive issue, ponder another insight:
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
That astute observation is also from a Marx — Groucho.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.