There is more proof that average Americans like the idea of single-payer health insurance provided by the government.
A majority or 59% of voters in Maine supported Question 2; a ballot measure demanding expansion of the state’s Medicaid program on November 7, National Public Radio (NPR) reported. Supporters claim the measure would add between 70,000 and 80,000 participants to the state’s Medicaid program.
What is even more interesting is that voter turnout was higher than expected in Maine, The Portland Press Herald reported. Turnout was heavy in some precincts with a line of voters stretching outside the gym doors at Reiche Elementary School in Portland.
Republicans and Democrats Please Pay Attention
Both Republicans and Democrats should definitely take notice of Question 2’s success.
A majority of voters in a largely rural state with a population that is 94.8% white supported Medicaid expansion. Maine is also a historically conservative and Republican state where 44.9% of the voters supported Donald J. Trump in last year’s presidential election.
The drive for Medicaid expansion provides a template for Democratic success in other rural and white states such as Montana, Idaho, Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Alaska. It might also provide a strategy for Democrats in rural, largely white, areas of states like Colorado, California, and Wisconsin.
There are some factors that set Maine apart such as its close proximity to Quebec and Canada’s Maritime Provinces. That means a lot of the state’s residents are familiar with Canada’s national health insurance (Medicare for All) system. The shortage of healthcare providers in rural areas and the heroin epidemic that is hitting Maine hard also drive interest in increased Medicaid.
Sorry Democrats, Maine Just Proved Obamacare Does Not work
One bad lesson that Democrats should not learn from the success of Question 2 is that Obamacare is popular or successful.
The success of Medicaid expansion proves just the opposite; Obamacare is a failure in Maine, which is why voters are seeking an alternative. If the Obamacare model of using tax-credits to expand health insurance coverage worked, people would not be voting for the expansion of a government-run alternative.
Voters sent politicians a clear message they want government-controlled and funded health insurance, not more private coverage. That should worry Republicans because it indicates support for their free-market mantra is declining even among some of the most conservative Americans.
Measure’s Success Does Not Mean Medicaid will be expanded in Maine
Question 2’s success does not guarantee Medicaid expansion in Maine. The legislature will have to come up with the money for the program.
Republican Governor Paul LePage sensibly said he will not implement Medicaid expansion until he gets the money to pay for it, NPR reported. Since the Maine legislature has approved Medicaid expansion five times since 2013, such funding is likely.
“Give me the money and I will enforce the referendum,” LePage said. Although he threatened to veto Medicaid proposals that would raise taxes or raid the state’s emergency fund.
That state seems to indicate a change for LePage; who has been a staunch opponent of Medicaid expansion for years. He might see the writing on the wall. If LePage changes his mind that will prove American Conservative writer Chase Madar’s contention that Republicans will support socialized medicine within five years is correct.
Maine Voters Action Might be good for Big Health Insurance and Big Retail
Counterintuitively, Question 2’s success might be good for big health insurance companies like Anthem (NYSE: ANTM) and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH).
Those companies are major providers of Medicaid policies; which unlike Obamacare, policies can be lucrative for insurers. Since Medicaid is cost-controlled and underwritten by the state, it is a steady source of revenue with few risks.
Obamacare is not cost-controlled and risky because insurers are required everybody including persons with preexisting conditions that are more likely to use healthcare. Medicaid has state funding mechanisms built in to cover such individuals.
Other companies that might benefit from Medicaid expansion are pharmacy operators such as CVS Health (NYSE: CVS), Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA), Kroger (NYSE: KR), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), and Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST). More insured people would mean more potential customers for those stores’ pharmacies and clinics.
Another advantage Medicaid expansion gives retailers is that lower-income people may have more money to spend on other stuff. The money they would spend on medicine, healthcare, or insurance might be available for other purchases.
Why Medicaid Expansion is a Bad Idea
There are some serious potential drawbacks to Medicaid expansion. Setting up a different health insurance program in every state of the union would lead to a massive expansion of bureaucracy, paperwork, and red tape.
There might be 50 different Medicaid programs with different standards, procedures, and requirements. That would be a nightmare for Americans traveling between states, or healthcare providers trying to collect bills.
Another obvious problem is that state legislators; one of the stupidest, most incompetent, and corrupt classes of people in America, would be put in charge of healthcare. That would give Christian Conservatives the ability to stop state funds from being spent on birth control. Other extremists might get the ability to use taxpayers’ money to finance medical Marijuana.
One national health insurance program administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid; which has over fifty years of experience in the business, would be far cheaper and more efficient. An advantage of federal Medicare for all would be that Americans could use it anywhere in the nation.
A potential drawback to Medicaid is that low-income people might get trapped in a particular state because it is the only place they can use their health insurance. Another problem would be Medicaid migration, sick people moving to states with more generous Medicaid benefits. That would not be fair to taxpayers if persons that never paid taxes to support the system started getting benefits from it.
Other benefits would be the elimination of state bureaucracies and bureaucrats, unified national standards for healthcare, and the ability to set prices on drugs and services nationwide. There would also be only one legislative body; Congress to deal with instead of 50.
So yes, Medicaid expansion will benefit a lot of people, but it might be a policy we regret. If Medicaid expansion leads to increased costs, more bureaucracy, and more red tape it’ll just create a bigger mess to clean up.