Expanding Medicaid in Utah will cost taxpayers millions

Dollars funnelThis is the first of three blog posts discussing the findings of a recent state-funded report on the impacts of Utah’s pending decision on Medicaid expansion.

Some advocates for expanding Medicaid in Utah have recently opined that “there is no mathematical reason not to” expand Medicaid under the provisions of Obamacare. A recent state-funded analysis of Utah’s Medicaid expansion (or not) options shows that this claim is not grounded in reality.

According to the analysis, “expanding Medicaid is modeled to have an overall cost to the state,” which is to say, to Utah taxpayers. If policymakers choose to expand its Medicaid program, the least expensive option is estimated to cost state and county government $246.5 million over ten years, and the most expensive option is estimated to cost $540.8 million over the same period. This is compared with a 10-year cost of $212.6 million for choosing to not expand Medicaid beyond the mandatory changes required under Obamacare, for a net Medicaid expansion cost for Utah taxpayers between $33.9 million to $328.2 million.

It is important to note that these cost estimates assume that the federal government actually provides all of the Medicaid funding that they have promised to states over the 10-year period of the study. Considering the fact that, according to the American Institute of CPAs, the “total obligations of the US government – $61 trillion – exceed the net worth of all of its citizens,” and according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “…the current structure of the federal budget is unsustainable,” it seems reasonable to question this assumption.

Some may wish to believe in the fantasy that expanding Medicaid will improve health care for hundreds of thousands of Utahns without costing Utah taxpayers anything. But in the real world you do not get something for nothing. To believe otherwise defies both common sense and human experience. There will be a cost to Utah taxpayers for policymakers choosing to expand Utah’s Medicaid program. And it likely to be significant, running into the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

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