Mailvox: expanding Medicaid

In which a question is posed:

I don’t want to ask this question in public for fear of looking a fool cuz maybe somewhere, somehow, this has been addressed and I missed it. But with all this health care/health insurance reform and changing EVERYTHING, why isn’t the government just revamping medicare and medicaid to catch that group that does NOT have health insurance? Am I missing something?

Yes, you’re leaving out the financial angle. Medicare and Medicaid are already spending more money than they’re taking in and are going to go broke in about eight years. This is why so much of the talk about health care reform has centered around rationing. At 7.2 percent of GDP, Medicaid and Medicare make up a little less than half of the 15.3 percent of GDP ($2.1 trillion) spent on health care, so the would-be reformers need to get their hands on that other $1.1 trillion in order to redistribute the services it pays for to the uninsured. Everyone will still pay roughly the same amount of money in, but the government will determine who gets the benefit of it.

Simply expanding Medicare and Medicaid wouldn’t work, because then the government would have to figure out how to bring in the additional money to pay for the expansion. Since Washington is already running an annual deficit of nearly $2 trillion, that’s simply not going to fly.