States have proven that ObamaCare projections can’t be trusted

States have proven that ObamaCare projections can’t be trusted
© Getty

After the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion was optional, many states rushed to accept it anyway. It was “free money,” they said. It would “create jobs,” lobbyists promised. Some officials even claimed this massive, open-ended welfare expansion would make their budgets more stable and predictable.

Unfortunately, none of these promises bore fruit. But perhaps none fell shorter than the guarantee of budget stability.

As part of their decision-making process, virtually every state created projections for how many able-bodied adults would sign up for the expansion and how much it would cost. These projections were used to make budget estimates and presented to the public as rock-solid figures for how much they, the taxpayers, would be expected to fork over.

ADVERTISEMENT

Think of it like asking your mom to borrow her credit card to take five of your friends to the movies and promising not to spend more than $50.

 

Well, as it turns out, if you offer able-bodied adults open-ended welfare, they will take it. And far more of them will take it than expected. And so, from its inception, enrollment and costs for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion have consistently overshot state predictions.

The most recent data shows that states who expanded ObamaCare have signed up more than twice as many able-bodied adults as expected—to the surprise of virtually every government consultant who made projections, and to the surprise of precisely no one who’s ever studied government projections. 

To put a finer point on it, this means states have added nearly 13 million able-bodied adults to their welfare programs — 110 percent more than promised.

Think of it like if your mom gave you her credit card to take five friends to the movies for $50 — but instead you took more than ten friends and spent more than twice that. 

Making matters worse, many of these ObamaCare expansion states maintain Medicaid waiting lists, made up of individuals with traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal cord injuries, severe disabilities, and more, waiting for additional home and community-based services. Instead of taking care of these individuals who truly need help first, expansion states have moved able-bodied adults to the front of the line.

So that’s the bad news, and it’s pretty bad. But there is a glimmer of good news as well: many states said no and continue to say no to this failed program. Thanks to their resolve, millions of able-bodied adults have been saved from dependency.

That’s the focus of a new report, released this week from the Foundation for Government Accountability. In it, FGA overviews just how lousy expansion projections have proven to be — from both states and third-party groups — and how important it is that these remaining non-expansion states continue to say no to ObamaCare and yes to the truly needy.

By rejecting ObamaCare expansion, states have saved at least 11 million able-bodied adults from welfare and will save taxpayers at least $676 billion over just the first decade. If these states reverse course now, they could expect enrollment and costs to soar to at least these levels, well beyond projections. Thank goodness they’ve stood their ground.

ObamaCare expansion was always destined to fail. Enrollment and cost projections were understated in an effort to make it seem more workable. But now, more than four years into the program, the facts are inescapable.

States that have rejected ObamaCare deserve our thanks. They have saved taxpayers billions, saved millions from welfare, and preserved resources for the truly vulnerable. 

States that made the wrong decision still have a chance to course correct. By simply stopping new enrollment, they can help millions move out of welfare, back into self-sufficiency, and begin to restore Medicaid as the safety net it was always supposed to be.

But perhaps most importantly, Congress needs to act. They need to give states the flexibility to more easily unwind these failed programs and they need ensure no state has to live through this nightmare again.

Nic Horton is the research director for the Foundation for Government Accountability, a nonprofit group that advocates for limited government.