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Monday, October 21, 2013

Paul Krugman: Lousy Medicaid Arguments

Conservatives will use whatever arguments they can find to deny health care to the poor:

Lousy Medicaid Arguments, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: For now, the big news about Obamacare is the debacle of HealthCare.gov, the Web portal through which Americans are supposed to buy insurance on the new health care exchanges. For now, at least, HealthCare.gov isn’t working for many users.
It’s important to realize, however, that this botch has nothing to do with the law’s substance, and will get fixed. After all, a number of states have successfully opened their own exchanges,...
In other words, the technical problems, while infuriating ... will not, in the end, be the big story. The real threat remains the effort of conservative groups to sabotage reform, especially by blocking the expansion of Medicaid. This effort relies heavily on lobbying, lavishly bankrolled by the usual suspects, including the omnipresent Koch brothers. But it’s not just money: the right has also rolled out some really lousy arguments. ...
Enter ... experts ... to declare that Medicaid actually hurts its recipients. Their evidence? Medicaid patients tend to be sicker than the uninsured, and slower to recover from surgery.
O.K., you know what to do: Google “spurious correlation health.” You are immediately led to the tale of certain Pacific Islanders who long believed that having lice made you healthy, because they observed that people with lice were, typically, healthier than those without. They were, of course, mixing up cause and effect: lice tend to infest the healthy, so they were a consequence, not a cause, of good health.
The application to Medicaid should be obvious. Sick people are likely to have low incomes; more generally, low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid just tend in general to have poor health. So pointing to a correlation between Medicaid and poor health as evidence that Medicaid actually hurts its recipients is as foolish as claiming that lice make you healthy. It is, as I said, a lousy argument.
And the reliance on such arguments is itself deeply revealing, because it illustrates the right’s intellectual decline. I mean, this is the best argument their so-called experts can come up with for their policy priorities?
Meanwhile, many states are still planning to reject the Medicaid expansion, denying essential health care to millions of needy Americans. And they have no good excuse for this act of cruelty.

    Posted by on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 01:44 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (76)

          


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