Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My! Medicaid Expansion Scare Tactics Exposed


July 23, 2014 1:00PM

When all else fails (you know, when common sense and principled solutions are incongruent with your collectivist message) the political strategy of the Left defaults to scare tactics and misinformation. Lately, we’ve seen this amplified by pundits and progressives who are eager to connect hospital closings across the country to the failure of those states to expand Medicaid. Unfortunately for them, the facts are clear: with or without Medicaid expansion dollars, hospitals have largely been, and continue to be, rent-seeking, poorly managed, and unaccountable entities that are the root of their own demise. Yet, as Gov. Haslam remains resolved to deflect federal pressures to outright expand Medicaid and instead seek alternative solutions, a recent Metro Pulse article seizes on the opportunity to misconstrue the facts and lead Tennesseans to believe that Medicaid expansion is the only saving grace for troubled hospitals. Among the many errant claims made by the Metro Pulse contributor is the entirely false suggestion that Tennessee’s failure to accept federal Medicaid expansion funds means other states are getting “our free federal dollars.” As Politifact’s earlier investigation reported, “Each state that opts in gets federal money based on the number of new Medicaid enrollees it signs up, regardless of what happens in other states.” While it’s admittedly troubling to see hospitals struggle or shut their doors, it’s not the responsibility of taxpayers to come to their rescue. Rather, these hospitals should first look at their internal expenditures before asking Tennesseans for help to pay their bills. Often, hospitals misappropriate funds on high-salaried lobbyists and third-party associations, rather than spending revenue on patient-driven services. For example, a recent analysis by Virginia’s revealed the following pesky little facts: 

  • The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association paid its president, Laurens Sartoris, $553,082 in 2011. The industry lobbying group’s top three executives earned more than $1 million combined that year, the latest year for which data is available.
  • A recent study found that up to 39 percent of health-care spending could be eliminated without harming consumers or reducing quality of care at hospitals.

The Left’s arguments sounds remarkably similar to some other misguided assertions we were fed not long ago. Does “too big to fail” ring a bell? The same scare tactics employed to justify the bailouts of Fanny and Freddy are eerily similar to the ones being employed in debate over Medicaid expansion—their “bailout” solution for mismanaged hospitals. Let’s not go there again. -Lindsay Boyd Enjoy the Beacon blog? Help us keep it going with a tax-deductible gift.