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Column

Medicaid plan faces obstruction

To the editor:

I recently read an article by Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist) that references a new study from the non-partisan RAND Corporation that examines the consequences if the states whose governors have declared their intent to obstruct Medicaid expansion actually do this. The result would be a huge financial hit: these states would lose more than $8 billion a year in federal aid, and they would need to pay roughly $1 billion extra to cover the losses hospitals incur when treating the uninsured.

Their actions would also deny health coverage to roughly 3.6 million Americans... essentially all living near or below the poverty line and cause an increase of about 19,000 avoidable deaths per year.

We all know that it’s common practice for some politicians to refuse to spend money to help the poor and the unfortunate, even when there are large economic and societal advantages to spending this money: consider food stamps (SNAP) which returns $1.70 for each dollar spent. But the blocking of the Medicaid expansion will only result in the spending of huge sums of money for the sole purpose of hurting these people. That’s spiteful and cruel. Medicaid expansion would cover 58,000 hard-working New Hampshire tax-payers (including roughly 1,500 veterans and 800 of their spouses). These people are our neighbors who work multiple jobs trying to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, during the worst recession in 80 years.

According to non-partisan studies from the Lewin Group and New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute, the economic impact of this extended coverage is overwhelmingly positive. It’s estimated that over the next seven years, our state will receive $2.5 billion in federal funds, our hospitals will save $400 million, and the economic spin off will create upwards of 5,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in gross state product. And this will cost New Hampshire nothing.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of the massive monetary and social benefits of Medicaid expansion, there are some politicians in New Hampshire who oppose it and want to defer the Medicaid expansion decision by burying the issue in a committee. If they defer this decision that will only cost us more money. It’s time for these obstructionists to realize the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and it’s moving us forward to a much more rational and humane health care system that serves all the people of our country at reduced cost.

So, if your elected representative refuses to cooperate on this issue, because of some philosophical issue, for the sheer joy of Calvinistic cruelty, or because they’re confused about the true cost of ACA, tell them to have a fact-based moment of clarity and do what’s in your interest immediately. If they don’t, then vote for someone who will represent you.

John Zavgren

Wilton

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