During his press conference on Thursday, President Obama chided the media for not reporting on the good news about Obamacare—the large number of people who have signed up for Medicaid.
Obama said that of the one million applications completed, representing 1.5 million Americans, some 396,000 now have access to Medicaid:
That’s been less reported on, but it shouldn’t be. Americans who are having a difficult time, who are poor, many of them working, may have a disability, they’re Americans like everybody else, and the fact that they are able to get insurance is critically important.
Obama was looking for any sliver of good news in the botched Obamacare website rollout. But citing increased Medicaid enrollments doesn’t help his cause.
Under Obamacare, states were encouraged to expand Medicaid coverage, with the carrot being that the federal government would cover 100% of the costs for the first three years and then gradually pull back, with the states then assuming more of the costs.
While this appeared to be no-risk deal for the states, it is anything but. The majority of people covered under Medicaid tend to be poorer, older and sicker than the general population, meaning that health care costs for them are also greater than the general population. As they get older, they will likely need even more medical care, pushing up the cost of the program, which the states will have to start paying a portion of after the third year. That is a cost that they may not be able to afford without tax increases or painful budget cuts.
But that really doesn’t matter to Obama, because by the time the hammer of increased costs comes down, he will be on his way out of the Oval Office.