Jim Waters

(Editor’s note: Gov. Steve Beshear confirmed today that Kentucky will expand Medicaid enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.)

By Jim Waters, Bluegrass Institute

More than 324 years after architect Sir Christopher Wren constructed fake pillars at Windsor Town Hall near London to satisfy building inspectors, tourists remain fascinated with the good-for-nothing posts.

The story goes that in 1689, local inspectors warned that the town hall would crumble without additional support.

Rather than fight City Hall, Wren, England’s greatest architect – who disagreed with the inspectors – fooled them by building four pillars that offered the illusion of more support but which did not even reach the ceiling.

Stunts deceiving observers by illusion are not, of course, relegated to 17th Century building inspections. They can occur in outright wallet-crushing fashion today.

Take, for example, Kentucky’s Medicaid shanty.

Inspectors have carefully examined the leaning structure and determined that adding 300,000 new enrollees into the Obamacare program – which Gov. Steve Beshear announced he will do – would add an unbearable financial weight to a structure that’s already crumbling.

Four fake pillars have been erected by Obamacare’s great architects in Kentucky offering the illusion of sustainability:

• Expanding Medicaid will insure improved health for currently uninsured Kentuckians. 

Jason Bailey of the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy advocated for expanding Medicaid, telling reporters “it will make us healthier.” Bailey apparently wasn’t asked for any supporting material for his claim, and he sure didn’t offer any.

Nor did he have any comments concerning a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study revealed that while 6,000 previously uninsured individuals placed by random lottery into Oregon’s Medicaid program in 2008 used the health-care system more frequently and spent significantly more money through their new coverage, they were not significantly healthier than those in the sample group not chosen by the lottery.

• Federal funding is “free.”

Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, told CN2’s “Pure Politics” that he fully expected the governor to go along with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion because the federal government will pay the bill for the first three years. “I think he’s always intended for the first three years to implement the expansion because it’s free,” Palmer said.

Am I to believe that aliens from outer space swoop down each April 15 to cover our federal income tax payments in order to cover Medicaid expansion? This illusion is easily discovered by looking at your latest pay stub.

• The state can pull out in the future if it’s too costly.

Beginning in 2017, the state will be forced to start paying for the Medicaid expansion. Not only has Beshear offered no acceptable plan for where the state is going to come up with the hundreds of millions of additional dollars, he also casually suggests that Kentucky will just pull out if the cost is too high. Call this illusion by delusion.

What happens to all of those new recipients who, in some cases, have left private plans to join Medicaid under the worst illusion of all: that having an insurance card in the pocketbook insures access, more choices and better care?

• Deciding to expand Medicaid was made after careful consideration driven by facts.

After Obamacare was upheld by the United States Supreme Court, the governor’s office said it would “determine the best course for the state after we have gathered the facts.”

Well, the facts show that Medicaid is a broken program that no longer serves those for whom it was created and that no longer has the confidence of doctors, many of whom have not even been accepting new Medicaid patients before the expansion.

What Kentuckians need are health care professionals unimpeded by the red tape of our federal masters, not political illusions and cheap tricks.

About Jim Waters: Jim Waters is acting president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at [email protected] Read Waters’ previously published columns here.