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Columbus Dispatch Declares There’s No Case Against Medicaid Expansion

Newspaper decides arguments it has ignored do not exist

“Opposition to Medicaid expansion is purely ideological,” The Columbus Dispatch editors declared in an April 28 column taking the paper’s advocacy of its current pet cause to a new extreme. For three months the Dispatch has diligently overlooked arguments against Medicaid expansion in Ohio.

John Wolfe
Dispatch Chairman & Publisher John Wolfe

“By opening the door to a bill to expand Medicaid to more Ohioans, Senate President Keith Faber has kept alive the possibility that the state can avoid an expensive mistake,” the editorial board began, referring to Faber’s stated intent of pursuing Medicaid reform separate from the biennial budget.

The Dispatch editors insisted House Republicans “had no rational or practical reason for opposing” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion, which “will save the state money” with an estimated $13 billion in new federal spending from 2014 through 2020.

America’s national debt is roughly $16.8 trillion, but the Dispatch editors think rejecting the PPACA Medicaid expansion is irrational “because the federal government has pledged to pay the premiums” for three years “and at 90 percent after that.”

State and national experts including a member of the Medicare Board of Trustees have warned DC cannot hold up its end of the bargain, but that’s something the Dispatch has neglected to report.

Dispatch Printing Company publisher and CEO John Wolfe, head of the paper’s editorial board, sits on the executive committee of the Columbus Partnership and is a member of the Ohio Business Roundtable, two groups whose members include hospital CEOs eager for more taxpayer money.

“Accepting the expansion not only means that 275,000 additional Ohioans have health-insurance coverage, it means the state will spend less on health care than it does now,” Wolfe and the other editors asserted. Unless the Dispatch has evidence the world will end on June 30, 2015 concurrent with Governor John Kasich’s two-year budget, this assertion is false.

The PPACA Medicaid expansion would increase Ohio’s annual Medicaid spending by over half a billion dollars by 2021, according to the left-leaning Urban Institute’s projections. This is just one more fact the Dispatch editors claim does not exist because the Dispatch editors have chosen to ignore it.

No one really knows how many Ohioans would be added to the Medicaid rolls if the state expanded the entitlement program. No one knows how much the new enrollees would cost, either, but the Dispatch hasn’t acknowledged proof that Medicaid expansions in other states cost far more than estimated and failed to increase the prevalence of health coverage as promised.

Feigning interest in the economics of the PPACA Medicaid expansion and pointing to business groups’ support for more government spending, the editors warned that failing to expand Medicaid would put hospitals in “financial distress” and result in care costs being “passed on to insured patients.”

Most of Ohio’s nonprofit hospitals would net millions per year without the charity care offsets PPACA may (or may not) begin phasing out next year, as Media Trackers first reported on March 11. But, the Dispatch has never questioned warnings from the millionaires who lead the Ohio Hospital Association even when someone else does the legwork and presents facts that contradict the hospital lobby.

Who would pay for the billions in new state and federal spending if Ohio expanded Medicaid? This question is not relevant, because the Dispatch editorial board has decided it is not relevant.

Concluding with a falsehood touted by the Kasich administration and other proponents of the PPACA Medicaid expansion, the Dispatch editors wrote, “turning it down changes nothing. Obamacare isn’t going away. Federal spending isn’t going to be changed materially by Ohio’s refusal to participate.”

It’s easy to see how Dispatch readers might believe “opposition to Medicaid expansion is purely ideological,” if readers trust that the Dispatch has reported both sides of the story.

This story originally appeared at Media Trackers Ohio.

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