Medicaid was created to be a safety net for the truly needy such as seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income children. Most of us agree: It is important to protect this program for the people who need it most.
Unfortunately, many politicians have lost sight of Medicaid’s intended purpose. In doing so, they took limited resources meant for truly needy individuals and moved millions of able-bodied adults—the majority of whom do not work at all—to the front of the line instead. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people with developmental disabilities and other conditions remain trapped on waiting lists, hoping to someday get access to desperately needed services.
This is happening because of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Under ObamaCare, lawmakers have the option to expand welfare to able-bodied adults in their states. Far too many states made the tragic decision to expand their Medicaid programs, causing enrollment surges. These enrollment surges far surpassed projections—resulting in far more newly eligible welfare enrollees than policymakers promised taxpayers in their states. Sadly—as is often the case with massive, ill-advised expansions of government—it is the taxpayers who are left footing the (enormous) bill.
When it comes to ObamaCare expansion, policymakers, as well as taxpayers, deserve to know why these over-enrollments keep happening. A new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) answers that exact question.
According to the report, the main reason states so badly underestimated enrollment is their reliance on Census Bureau data to make estimations. This data does not work for projecting expansion enrollment for multiple reasons.
First, the Census Bureau defines ‘households’ differently than the Medicaid program. For example, for an able-bodied adult who lives at home with his parents and does not work, Census data counts his parents’ income to determine his poverty status. The result is that Census data would indicate that he is not eligible for expansion. But after ObamaCare expansion, his state might learn the hard way that he is eligible because Medicaid eligibility is based on his personal income only. Oops. The enrollment overruns begin.
The Census Bureau also defines ‘income’ differently than Medicaid does. The Census, for example, considers cash welfare as income. Medicaid, however, excludes cash welfare from income calculations, resulting in more people appearing to have lower incomes and thereby qualifying for Medicaid. Oops again.
Finally, there are differences in how the Census Bureau and Medicaid define poverty because the Census Bureau evaluates more data points that could result in a person no longer being under the threshold required to receive Medicaid benefits under expansion.
But ultimately, perhaps most alarming, are differences in data collection. While Medicaid eligibility is determined by tax filing data—cold, hard facts—Census Bureau data is based on income information that is self-reported in a survey. You read that correctly: Critical decisions about whether or not to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of people are routinely being made based on polling data.
The result of the use of this bad data is a massive undercounting of the number of people who could become eligible for Medicaid under an expansion plan. Altogether, the number of adults made eligible for Medicaid expansion could be more than 72 percent higher than census data suggests. The resulting over-enrollment busts state budgets and consume limited resources.
Medicaid expansion is shattering projections and creating a welfare trap for more than 12 million able-bodied adults. Regrettably, taxpayers and the truly needy will continue to pay the price. The takeaway for states that have rightly rejected expansion is simple: don’t trust the numbers. If your state is looking at expansion enrollment estimates, they are relying on Census data—and they’re preparing to replicate this nightmare
Freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) told the Deadline Detroit that House Democrats have talked about arresting and detaining members of President Donald Trump’s administration who fail to comply with congressional subpoenas. While this is something Democrats are contemplating, Tlaib said this is “uncharted territory.”
2. Lois Lerner refuses to testify on IRS targeting
Lois Lerner, the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the IRS when they were inappropriately targeting conservative and tea party groups, appeared before Congress in May 2013. She gave a statement but refused to answer questions by pleading the Fifth Amendment. Republicans called her back in March 2014, when she pulled the same stunt. At the time, Rep. Elijah Cummings blasted Republicans for wanting to question Lerner. Today, Cummings is the House Oversight and Reform Chairman and has a much different attitude about Congress’s role of oversight when it comes to Trump.
3. Ben Rhodes not allowed to testify on Iran Nuclear Deal
The Iran Nuclear Deal was so bad Obama didn’t even try to get Senate ratification for it, and much of the negotiations were done without Congress being informed. When Congressional Republicans wanted to get answers after Ben Rhodes (the failed novelist turned Obama speechwriter turned top foreign policy adviser to Obama) let it spill to the New York Times that the administration relied on a false narrative to sell the Iran deal to the public, the White House wouldn’t let him testify, using the “separation of powers” excuse. “Specifically, the appearance of a senior presidential adviser before Congress threatens the independence and autonomy of the president, as well as his ability to receive candid advice and counsel in the discharge of his constitutional duties,” explained White House counsel Neil Eggleston. This was after the White House previously claimed they wouldn’t hide behind executive privilege.
4. Treasury officials blocked from testifying on Obamacare subsidies
When Obama started making all sorts of unilateral (and illegal) changes to Obamacare, Republicans were none too happy about the abuse of power. When Obama’s IRS decided to expand Obamacare subsidies to be used in federal exchanges in addition to state exchanges, the Obama administration refused to allow Treasury Department officials to testify on the rule changing process, using the excuse that the issue was soon to be decided in the Supreme Court.
5. White House refuses to allow political director to testify
In 2014, Democratic operatives were concerned that the Obama White House wasn’t doing enough to help in the forthcoming midterms. In response to these concerns, Obama launched the White House Office of Political Strategy and Outreach. This raised eyebrows for some, who were concerned that Obama and his minions were using White House resources for political activity. So, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee began investigating in order to make sure the White House was complying with civil services laws designed to prevent executive branch employees from engaging in political activity. David Simas, the director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach was subpoenaed, but the White House refused to allow him to testify before Congress. In a letter to Congress, White House Counsel Neil Eggleston claimed Simas was “immune from congressional compulsion to testify on matters relating to his official duties” and thus would not appear before the committee.
Justice Kagan’s Obamacare conflict on interest
Prior to being nominated as a justice for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan served as solicitor general for the Obama administration, during which time she was heavily involved in crafting a legal defense for Obamacare. This conflict of interest was important, since issues revolving around Obamacare would be going before the Supreme Court. Federal law dictates that Supreme Court justices must recuse themselves when their impartiality “might reasonably be questioned.”
Naturally, the Obama administration didn’t want Kagan to recuse herself from any Obamacare-related cases. So, when the House Judiciary Committee requested documents and interviews to get a clear understanding of her role relating to Obamacare while she was solicitor general, the Obama/Holder Justice Department refused to comply. When Eric Holder testified before the committee he claimed to have no knowledge of the request.
7. Refusal to provide subpoenaed Solyndra documents
Remember the Solyndra scandal? The Obama administration wasn’t exactly interested in letting Congress exercise their oversight responsibilities when they investigated how the Obama administration could have given them a huge loan when they were going bankrupt. When House Republicans subpoenaed documents for their investigation, the Obama White House fired back claiming their request would put an “unreasonable burden on the president’s ability to meet his constitutional duties.” House Republicans accused the Obama White House of hiding information, and they responded with accusations of a partisan investigation.
8. Refusing to let the White House social secretary testify on party crashers scandal
In 2009, two party crashers successfully got by the Secret Service during a state dinner, succeeding in meeting and shaking hands with Barack Obama. Congress investigated the breach in security, but when White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers was asked to testify before Congress, the White House refused to let her testify. Obama’s press secretary explained during a press briefing that “…based on separation of powers, staff here don’t go to testify in front of Congress.” That explanation was questioned by legal scholars. “I’d completely fall out of my chair if they invoked Executive privilege with regards to a social secretary arranging a party,” explained Mark J. Rozell, a public-policy professor at George Mason and expert on executive privilege. For what was arguably a very nonpartisan investigation (and led by Democrats) it certainly makes you wonder what the Obama White House was hiding.
9. Fighting subpoenas in the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation investigation
When the Obama administration inexplicably dropped a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) in Philadelphia, many questions were asked as to why. The NBPP had dressed in paramilitary uniforms outside of polling places in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008, and the case against them, which was started by the Bush administration, and the Obama administration won the case by default when the NBPP didn’t show up in court to defend themselves, but the DOJ decided to dismiss the charges. Former Justice Department attorney (and current PJ Media contributor J. Christian Adams) quit his position in the Justice Department to protest the Obama administration’s handling of the case and confirmed the racial motivation behind the decision to drop the case against them.