(Bloomberg View) — Matt Bevin, the newly elected Republican governor of Kentucky, says his state can’t afford to keep covering the people who have gained health insurance through Medicaid expansion.
If money really is the issue, Bevin may find Kentucky can’t afford not to.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — Obamacare — lets states extend Medicaid coverage to anyone earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level (this year, $33,465 for a family of four), with 90 percent of the cost paid by the federal government. So far 30 states and Washington D.C. have done so, providing health coverage to some 12 million more people.
They’ve done this at rock-bottom cost, because Medicaid is one of the least expensive ways to provide insurance. For every newly enrolled adult last year, the Medicaid coverage cost $5,517, almost 10 percent less than the average premium for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Opponents of expansion contend that, even so, the states’ 10 percent share is too much to bear. Without question, that cost is significant. But Bevin and like-minded Republican officials in other states are wrong to conclude that cutting it will save them money.