Bluegrass Beacon – Obamacare: Public policy malpractice

BluegrassBeaconLogoReviews on cable news and social media of retired Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear’s response on behalf of the Democratic Party to President Donald Trump’s first – and powerful – speech to a joint gathering of Congress aren’t great.

Speaking while seated in a diner with a small group of attendees who appear largely impassive in a let-us-know-when-we-can-get-back-to-the-pie-and-coffee sort of way, Beshear’s canned and casual approach made it seem more like he was headed to a backyard barbecue than offering a serious response to the commander-in-chief’s weighty address.

“Small and stunty,” panned liberal MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow.

However, “to be fair to Beshear, going after that Trump speech is like taking the stage after a U2 set with nothing but a ukulele in your hands,” radio talk-show host Buck Sexton tweeted.

If life hands you a ukulele, at least find an effective composition to play.

Nothing is ever as effective as truth – especially in these days of fake news and alternative facts.

Alas, it seems all Beshear can locate is “Obamacare’s Concerto for Ukulele and Liberals in F (for Failure) Minor” as he remains stuck on maintaining that 22 million more Americans, including a half-million Kentuckians, “now have health care that didn’t have it before.”

At least 14.5 million of those Americans – including more than 400,000 Kentuckians – got their coverage through the misnamed Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility, which simply means that all previously uninsured citizens on Medicaid now have is a card in their pockets identifying them as government-program beneficiaries.

No assurance of actual care exists.

But that’s just one of the problems with off-key claims by Beshear and his fellow Obamacare supporters. Consider also:

  • Obamacare provides a costly barrier to needed care.

A Families USA study shows that premiums for high-deductible plans purchased through Obamacare’s exchanges are increasing by double-digit amounts and more annually – 116 percent in Arizona last year alone – resulting in one in four of those customers skipping doctor’s appointments and medical tests while struggling to pay the bigger invoices.

How does this add up to better care or lower costs?

  • Labor-force participation is dropping in states using Obamacare to expand Medicaid.

While Beshear spoke of unemployment-rate drops, fiscal experts are more concerned about Obamacare’s impact on discouraging people from even looking for work.

Georgetown University researcher-turned government analyst Tomás Wind reports that “expanding Medicaid is associated with a 1.5 to 3 percentage point drop in labor force participation” in states that chose to join in the expansion.

  • Obamacare perversely drives up costs then punishes individuals who work extra to pay for it.

People who’ve taken extra jobs to cover double-digit increases in premiums for policies obtained through Obamacare’s exchanges risk abruptly losing thousands of financial-aid dollars.

Tort reformer Ted Frank of the Manhattan Institute Center for Legal Policy used the Kaiser Foundation’s Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator to show how a 62-year-old earning $46,000 in a high-cost area suddenly loses the $7,836 tax credit that helps cover his premium if he earns just $22 more.

Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in noting Frank’s example writes that while it makes sense to “gradually phase out” subsidies for those whose incomes rise and who need less government help, Obamacare takes a “far more extreme and indefensible” approach.

“It suddenly takes away thousands of dollars in subsidies when many people earn a few extra dollars – blindsiding many of them in the process,” Bader writes. “… That leaves them much worse off than if they had never earned that extra income, potentially leaving them poorer for taking on a second job to pay the costs of their health insurance.”

It’s so severe that our 62-year-old will have more take-home pay if he earns $46,000 than if he reaches $55,000.

Frank’s conclusion: “This is just public policy malpractice.”

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read his weekly Bluegrass Beacon column at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com and @bipps on Twitter.

Bluegrass Beacon: Read the side of Obamacare’s box

BluegrassBeaconLogoLike food makers claiming “fat free” on the front of the box only to have a close reading of the ingredients on the side of that same box reveal a product packed with unhealthy, unpronounceable names of chemical toxins, Obamacare’s cheerleaders gush forth superficial claims about the reform policy’s success.

For instance, supporters in Kentucky and nationwide slapped a label in big letters on the front of Obamacare claiming “dramatic drop in the number of uninsured” while on the side of the box you discover a product packed with unsavory ingredients like “misleading claims.”

Just days before a recent government report forecasting a 25-percent increase in premiums in the 39 states that use HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare exchange which Kentucky joins on Nov. 1, President Obama proudly claimed to college students in Florida that “another 20 million Americans would know the financial security of health insurance” because of his reforms.

We’ve heard similar claims in Kentucky, where proponents allege the commonwealth’s Obamacare-induced programs reduced by a half-million the ranks of the uninsured.

Yet 80 percent of Obamacare’s enrollees in Kentucky were dumped into Medicaid, which is, as a recent Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “a failing program that provides substandard care.”

Nationally, 97 percent, or nearly 9 million of the 9.25 million newly insured who enrolled for coverage using the federal platform or one of the state Obamacare exchanges, wound up in the government-run Medicaid program.

Obama says states shouldn’t worry about future costs of such dramatic increases in Medicaid enrollment, because, after all, “the federal government is paying for it.”

Yet states will be required to start picking up a significant portion of the bill delivered by their expanded Medicaid populations next year.

How does Obama expect Kentucky with its worst-in-the-nation pension crisis to pay for an additional 400,000 Medicaid enrollees?

Does the federal government have a special printing press somewhere designed to spit out special Benjamins just to pay for this failed experiment in government-run health insurance?

Besides, have you checked your pay stub?

If you see “SWT” and “FIT,” it means that not only have you been paying for your state’s Medicaid program and its expansion — which, in Kentucky’s case, was $1.8 billion higher than expected during its first 18 months in 2014 and 2015 — but guess who antes up when “the federal government is going to pay for most of it?”

Yep. That would be you, too.

Another reason for Obamacare’s implosion is its attempt to impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory and pricing scheme on both insurers and their customers.

Forcing men to pay for maternity coverage and denying healthy young people the opportunity to purchase a higher-risk, lower-cost plan isn’t exactly motiving millennials to sign up.

While these young adults may have flocked to former presidential contender Bernie Sanders while he was holding court during this year’s primary campaign to extol the virtues of forced sharing and the vices of liberty and profit, they’re not biting when it comes to surrendering their money and personal liberty to Obamacare and its mandates forcing insurers to charge younger, healthier people higher rates to pay for older, sicker patients.

While it would be difficult to find a more Sanders-like program than Obamacare, 18-to-34-year-olds are reading the side of the box where they find “likely failure” among the ingredients and are choosing instead to forego the higher rates and pay the fines instead.

In fact, this demographic group purchases only about a quarter of the Obamacare plans when actuaries say 40 percent is required to offset the costs incurred by older, sicker workers.

Insurers, unable to keep carrying such significant losses, are fleeing the Obamacare exchanges faster than Aroldis Chapman’s fastball, leaving customers with fewer choices and even-higher costs.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute; Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

Bluegrass Beacon – Medicaid reform: Compassionate or cruel?

BluegrassBeaconLogoAn example of how the British government in the 19th century used the magic of incentives to improve survival rates of prisoners transported on ships to Australia could offer clues about how to right Kentucky’s listing Medicaid program.

For years, barely half the Australian-bound prisoners survived these voyages.

Despite ardent appeals from church, humanitarian and government leaders imploring ship captains to improve conditions, survival rates failed to change.

Finally, social reformer Edwin Chadwick recommended offering different incentives by adjusting how ship captains were compensated.

Chadwick suggested that instead of paying captains a fee for each prisoner who walked onto their ships in England, they would be paid only for prisoners who walked off ships in Australia.

Changing the incentives for captains immediately and dramatically improved survival rates to more than 98 percent.

Captains now protected prisoners’ health and well-being by providing them with better food and hygiene during their passage, as well as reducing the number of inmates crowded into each ship.

Incentives achieved what even appeals from the clergy failed to accomplish.

The right kind of inducements also can bring about some dramatic improvements in Kentucky’s health-insurance policy.

Adding hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians to Medicaid by expanding eligibility resulted in dangerously overcrowding the commonwealth’s Obamacare ship.

Close to 30 percent of Kentucky’s entire population is now crammed into this tilting vessel.

Supporters of the government-run plan brag about and receive nationwide acclaim for building such a beautiful, shiny sparkling ship.

Yet stroll through the lower decks and you will find an overloaded vessel with humiliating conditions from which too many enrollees may never exit – unless incentives are changed.

Plus, as degrading as the conditions on those British ships were, the captains always knew their destination.

However, a major point of confusion concerning Kentucky’s Obamacare ship is its true terminus.

Not everyone agrees that the anchor of government dependency should be lifted, allowing this ship to sail into a harbor filled with opportunities for able-bodied adult Kentuckians to find decent jobs and earn a good living in order to achieve the kind of lifestyle that allows them to purchase their own health-insurance plans and receive care from doctors they choose.

Opponents of Gov. Matt Bevin’s Kentucky HEALTH plan – which seeks to improve the chances of most of the recent Medicaid enrollees reaching a destination of dignity by paying a small premium, getting treatment for an addiction, training for a job or volunteering in their community – seem wholly uninterested in allowing anyone off the ship.

They go to great lengths to avoid confronting their antagonism toward teaching fellow Kentuckians to fish instead of keeping them dependent on government fish.

They also often attempt to change the conversation altogether by focusing on groups that will experience little, if any, change should Washington approve the Bevin administration’s proposed reforms.

Absolutely nothing in Bevin’s plan would, for example, change benefits for children, pregnant women, the disabled or poor.

Still, a letter writer in western Kentucky thinks I’m “mean-spirited” and “lacking compassion” because I support incentives designed to get prisoners off the ship, out of a defeated and miserable lifestyle into a victorious, productive life.

How compassionate is it to adamantly oppose incentives that will keep Kentucky’s Medicaid ship from sinking by sailing into the harbor and unloading able-bodied adults crammed onto its decks, giving them the opportunity to move into a place where they can contribute greatly to our society and maybe even help others?

If the Obama administration wants to show true compassion, it not only will approve the Bevin administration’s waiver request to implement the HEALTH plan’s thoughtful and reasonable incentives, it will do so immediately and enthusiastically.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute; Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

Bluegrass Beacon: Declare independence from dependency!

BluegrassBeaconLogoGov. Bevin is trying to help all able-bodied Kentuckians who want to declare their independence from government dependency by offering Kentucky HEALTH, a program designed to inject some personal responsibility and savings – the two usually work in tandem – into the commonwealth’s health-insurance policy.

Many of the one in four Kentuckians who now rely on Frankfort for coverage could pay their own way but are incentivized by the recent Medicaid expansion not to do so by offering them benefits paid for by productive taxpayers instead.

Such behavior was encouraged by former Gov. Steve Beshear, Bevin’s predecessor, who implemented program via executive orders and without a vote by the legislature – even though taxpayers are on the hook for such programs.

Had the expansion been put through the legislative process, the issues of whether it was sustainable and how we could keep it from yanking the chains of government dependency even tighter around the working poor’s necks would have been debated.

There are many good reasons why Bevin is right in acting to get rid of the exchange, move its current customers to the federal exchange and reform the state’s Medicaid policy. They all ultimately crawl back to the original problem: unsustainable costs.

Before the exchange even entered its second year, its largest insurers requested double-digit premium increases as sick Kentuckians were pulling up to the trough and turning in large claims for chronic health problems they ignored for years. Meanwhile, the federal government reneged on its promise to increase funding to address the astronomical costs of this expected surge.

The feds also have promised to continue to pick up a major part of the cost incurred by states, like Kentucky, who expanded Medicaid eligibility. Why should we believe them?

If nothing else, consider HEALTH a contingency plan in case Washington’s check doesn’t arrive.

Now that Bevin’s proposing that adults able to work should do so, or at least be productive in volunteering, going to school or getting job training, you would have thought – based on the opposition – that Chicken Little had moved into the governor’s mansion and started shooting up on steroids.

But read the plan for yourself at the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services website, and you will be struck by how similar the HEALTH proposal is to the coverage enjoyed by state workers.

We don’t – and won’t – hear anyone saying state workers have poor benefits.

Some current recipients and representatives of social-welfare groups who think little and care less about the cost of government services are sniveling about Bevin’s fairly modest proposals designed to ensure these programs can continue in some meaningful form.

However, by opposing this plan, opponents stand the chance of losing it altogether as Bevin made it clear: If these reforms aren’t implemented, the Medicaid expansion will be rolled back altogether.

Perish the thought that even low-income individuals might have to accept some responsibility for their own selves by paying small premiums – $15 at the most – to remain in the Kentucky HEALTH plan and receive Medicaid benefits.

Many would pay only about half that amount with – on top of all that – a 60-day grace period before having their accounts suspended.

Responses I’ve heard from some hard-working Kentuckians who take on extra jobs and make other sacrifices in order to afford the hundreds of dollars they pay monthly just to cover their own families is utter disbelief.

They’re livid at the unfairness of it all.

They pay the health-coverage bills of able-bodied adults who jumped on the merry-go-round of government dependency sped up by Beshear’s Medicaid expansion but who now show up at public meetings to squeal about $10 premiums.

Of course, if you’re not working and laying around watching soap opera reruns and eating Twinkies, you can probably pull yourself together long enough to go and protest a policy of personal responsibility in the middle of the day.

Most of us working to pay for their indolence probably won’t be able to make it.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute; Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

Testimony offered to Senate Health and Welfare Committee opposing legislative approval of Kynect and Medicaid expansion

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The following is an edited presentation of testimony offered by Bluegrass Institute CEO Jim Waters to the Kentucky Senate Health and Welfare Committee on April 11, 2016, in Frankfort.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I’m Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions at bipps.org. The Bluegrass Institute is a free-market think tank focused on offering common sense, economically sound solutions to Kentucky’s greatest challenges.

Certainly one of the great challenges faced by too many of our fellow Kentuckians is finding affordable health insurance that provides an acceptable quality of care. Yet while the intention of government programs – and of most policymakers who vote for them – is to help the less fortunate, they often end up not only falling far short of fulfilling those intentions, but actually harming the very constituency they are meant to assist.

Kynect

When former Gov. Steve Beshear established the state-based exchange Kynect by executive order in 2013, his administration projected the online insurance marketplace would provide 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians with access to affordable coverage. Yet fewer than a third of that anticipated number actually ever obtained coverage through the state-based exchange.

Seventy-five percent of those who signed up for plans on the exchange are being forced to find a new insurer as the Kentucky Health Cooperative, the exchange’s largest insurer, is closing down after losing $50 million last year – the most of any of the 22 Obamacare-subsidized cooperatives nationwide.

Even if the co-op would have remained open, its request to raise premiums by 25 percent during this past year – had they remained opened – combined with the previous year’s 20 percent in rate hikes would no doubt have exacerbated the situation reported by a recent study by Families USA study showing that high-deductible plans purchased though the state exchanges have resulted in one in four of those customers skipping doctor’s appointments and important medical tests.

[Read more…]

Bluegrass Beacon: House GOP shows solidarity, challenges the status quo

BluegrassBeaconLogoEditor’s note: This column originally was released to newspapers before the state Senate had passed its budget. It’s been updated to reflect passage of the Senate’s budget.

How unfair it was for former Gov. Steve Beshear to claim he was leaving the commonwealth’s bank account in much-better shape than he was handed when, in reality, the incoming Gov. Matt Bevin administration found itself staring at a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars.

This scenario resulted in the new governor’s first budget proposal containing across-the-board spending cuts of 4.5 percent during the current fiscal year and 9 percent in the next budget.

Bevin’s budget pays the bills, adds an additional $1.1 billion in funding to the pension system and tucks away nearly $1 billion in savings to address future pension payments in a Kentucky Permanent Fund – $500 million of which is coming from surplus funding in the state’s public employee health insurance fund.

State retirees, despite being largely a Democratic party constituency in elections, have given an increasingly enthusiastic “thumbs up” to Republican Bevin’s plan.

But the House Democrats’ budget dramatically reduces Bevin’s proposed cuts and uses the $500 million in surplus health insurance funding to pour more money into the commonwealth’s Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System rather than save it for the future or at least put it toward the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS), which is in much-greater danger of going belly-up.

The difference is KERS can’t match the campaign-contributing ability of teachers’ unions.

Still, it’s not as if Bevin neglected the teachers’ fund, as evidenced by his proposal to pour an additional $660 million into the KTRS pension plan.

Even some of the governor’s supporters question the need to save when there are pressing funding needs.

But it’s like the family being able to pay for a repair if the car breaks down or someone has to make an unexpected trip to the emergency room without totally busting its budget.

The state has itself taken a few such “trips” recently, including a shockingly high bill from Kynect, Kentucky’s Obamacare-style health insurance exchange. The tab was more than $60 million for this duplicative and wasteful program despite the fact that Beshear claimed his administration would operate Kynect for less than $34 million.

There’s also the matter of finding revenues to cover Kentucky’s portion of the bill generated by Beshear’s unilateral expansion of Medicaid eligibility, resulting in a half-million Kentuckians being added to the taxpayer-funded health insurance program. Kentucky Medicaid now includes 400,000 enrollees with household incomes between 69 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty level – many of whom could purchase private insurance if they weren’t being encouraged to move to the government dole.

Part of Obamacare’s promise was to cover a major portion of the expanded Medicaid costs now and into the foreseeable future. Still, even the best scenario requires Kentucky to pick up 10 percent of the expansion’s cost by 2020.

So the Democrats pass a budget that keeps most of the spending but refuses to tuck away badly needed savings, even though they have no clue what that cost will be.

What if it’s a lot higher and requires taking more General Fund money to pay those bills?

House Republicans showed inspiring solidarity by refusing to go along with this nonsense. Surely, this strengthened the resolve of the state Senate, which has since restored many of Bevin’s cuts and savings.

Not a single one of the House’s 47 Republicans voted for the Democrats’ irresponsible spending plan, which is dead on arrival at the Republican-controlled Senate.

The GOP’s unity is especially satisfying and significant as it’s directed at arch enemies of changing the direction of our commonwealth from poverty to prosperity: outdated political relics in charge of the House’s majority party who refuse to cut spending, save for the future or even represent their own constituencies.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

Bluegrass Beacon: Health exchanges, executive fiats and the Constitution

BluegrassBeaconLogoAccording to the Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the year of the goat. According to the Kentucky Constitution, it’s also the year that the Bluegrass State gets a new governor.

Since governors must hit the ground running in order to present a biennial budget to the General Assembly shortly after Election Day and the beginning of a new legislative session – as required by state statute – it’s helpful, if also a bit odd, that the state Constitution deems the inauguration be held in December.

Section 73 directs: “The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor shall commence the execution of the duties of their offices on the fifth Tuesday succeeding their election, and shall continue in the execution thereof until a successor shall have qualified.”

Some are rightly concerned that Steve Beshear, current holder of the office just across the hall from the capitol rotunda, has executed the duties of his office and then some.

They point to his Obama-esque decision to act without legislative approval when creating a government-run health insurance program and expanding a Medicaid bureaucracy that creates tenuous hope among the nearly 900,000 recipients – which the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange reports via email have enrolled in the program since October 1, 2013 using the exchange – that they will actually receive care along with a card.

Some of us who came along before political correctness made it generally uncool to raise the question of whether a popular politician’s actions were actually constitutional wonder: How can a state’s chief executive bring an unpopular president’s health-care fiasco into our midst and then force the citizenry to pay for it without so much as a vote from the people’s representatives?

Distaste for Beshear’s brash violation of the important constitutional protections provided by the separation of powers is bipartisan. An 89-11 vote in the Democratic-controlled House and a 37-1 tally in the Republican-dominated Senate were cast in favor of inserting into the state’s two-year budget bill a measure prohibiting the use of general funds for Obamacare and its related programs.

“The Governor is expressly prohibited from expending any General Fund resources on any expenditure directly or indirectly associated with the Health Benefit Exchange,” it said.

It remains to be seen whether the courts will defer not to the executive but to the representatives of the people to whom belongs the constitutional duty of making – and then being accountable for – expenditures of taxpayer dollars.

What doesn’t remain to be seen is the fact that Beshear and President Obama both have articulated that sometimes constitutional restraints on government must be twisted, stretched and ultimately broken – especially when it doesn’t jibe with their grandiose vision of redistribution and equality.

“In the end, this is always about priorities,” Beshear once said. “It’s always about priorities. Is the healthcare of our people one of our top priorities? It is mine.”

However, the “priority” of fixing Kentucky’s health-care problems shouldn’t be considered mutually exclusive of constitutional government – especially by a governor who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution. That means respecting the separation of powers – especially the role of the legislature in making the decisions concerning expenditures with taxpayers’ dollars.

That document is not a ceremonial symbol to be viewed nostalgically and adhered to only when convenient. Heeding, defending and respecting it should, in and of itself – and according to the oath taken by the officer holder – be the top priority to which all other “priorities” must bow.

There are plenty of constitutionally sound ideas available for addressing the thorny challenges of how to deal with preexisting conditions and crowded emergency room visits – including health savings accounts for the poor (that could actually encourage doctors to start accepting Medicaid patients again since they know they wouldn’t be relying on a hostile and bloated bureaucracy for reimbursement) and allowing Kentuckians to shop across state lines for the insurance that best fits their needs.

In fact, these ideas would go much further in effectively addressing Beshear’s “priority” of health care than bypassing our Constitution and the principles for which it stands ever could.

Jim Waters is president of the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com. Read previously published columns at www.bipps.org.

In the media: Responding to the State of the Commonwealth speech

Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters is asked by the Bowling Green Daily News to respond to Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly on Wednesday.

Waters says smoking policies should be decided by local communities and wondered: When is the governor going to tell the taxpayers of Kentucky how they are supposed to afford paying for his unhealthy Medicaid expansion?

 

2015 General Assembly: Governor’s Medicaid expansion ‘promised something that we cannot deliver’

The 2015 session of the Kentucky General Assembly gets underway Tuesday with the swearing-in of lawmakers and beginning the process of electing leaders.

Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the House chambers will be among the week’s highlights.

While the session is a non-budget, 30-day session, staLegLogote Sen. Julie Raque Adams says “if you look at the pressure points on Kentucky, they’re all budgetary,” which means issues like the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System $14 billion unfunded liability and  the Medicaid expansion must be dealt with.

Beshear, who expanded Medicaid by executive fiat rather than legislative approval, “has promised something that we cannot deliver,” Adams said.

“We continue to promise and over-promise and there’s actually no plan with how to pay for all of these things,” she continued.” And so, I for one don’t think it’s compassionate in the least sense to promise someone something that you can’t deliver on.”

Bluegrass Institute president Jim Waters joined Adams on Sunday’s “Feedback” with host Tom Mitchell on Louisville’s 970 WGTK-AM to talk about the upcoming legislative session.

Listen here.

Who are the ‘meanies’ among us?

Did you know that you have “mean-spirited motives” if you oppose the huge expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid program? Well, that’s what the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial writer thinks, anyhow.

But isn’t it more detrimental to the poor to add multitudes of middle-class Kentuckians who have told us that they would have purchased private insurance if they had not been made eligible for Medicaid and thus dilute the availability of care through the program that already is scarce for the poor and disabled?

Doctors and dentists have already quit accepting Medicaid patients in large numbers — and that’s before Gov. Steve Beshear, who’s running out of time to find a meaningful and influential legacy, decided to bypass the legislature and add nearly 400,000 Kentuckians to the government dole.

How is it “mean-spirited” to propose ideas that would implement market-driven reforms such as emphasizing consumer-oriented plans that would keep health care costs down and encourage wiser uses of health-care resources — while truly helping the needy among us?

If anyone’s “mean-spirited,” it’s those politicians and anonymous editorial writers who – simply for short-term political gain or , in the case of the writer, to mindlessly satisfy their editorial “base,” which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is shriveling up – lead the uninsured to believe that getting a Medicaid card will bring with it great care.

Reports like this Bluegrass Institute analysis of the unsustainability of Kentucky’s current Medicaid program and the proven, common sense and free-market solutions that can both provide for the need and protect our individual liberties are worthy of your support.

Please donate here.  Thank you for supporting the work of Kentucky’s first and only free market think tank.