Medicaid expansion should be reconsidered

Health care is a massive, complex mechanism in the United States. In attempting to bend it to their will, President Barack Obama and liberals in Congress apparently assumed they would get what they wanted simply because they wanted it. The pesky little details could be worked out after a national health care law – we know it as “Obamacare” – was enacted, they assured us.

Well, virtually everyone affected by the law is learning the details are messy and expensive.

Here in West Virginia, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has decided the state should go along with Obamacare’s mandate to increase enrollment in the Medicaid program. That is expected to provide health care insurance to an additional 91,500 Mountain State residents.

Until recently, no one bothered to ask where they would take their new insurance cards when they need doctors’ care. That could be a problem, according to Evan Jenkins, executive director of the state Medical Association.

Jenkins warns all those new Medicaid enrollees may have trouble finding enough physicians to accept them as patients. It is a simple matter of supply and demand.

Health care providers say Medicaid reimburses them at rates far below the actual cost of services. Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers charge other patients more to make up for the difference. And Jenkins said many physicians limit the number of Medicaid patients they will accept.

It may be that some of the new Medicaid enrollees will not be able to find doctors who will accept them as new patients, Jenkins predicted.

Massachusetts, which had a state health care law before Obamacare, reportedly had to take steps to make more doctors available. They included increasing medical school programs – an expensive proposition.

That is much of the problem with Obamacare. No one in Washington seemed to worry about the expensive details of making it work before enacting the law – and dumping it on businesses, individuals, insurance companies, the health care community and state governments.

Here in West Virginia, we simply cannot afford to cover for Obama and the liberal lawmakers through action such as setting up new training programs for doctors, nurses and other health care professionals.

Tomblin and state legislators may want to think about that before proceeding with the Medicaid expansion.