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Always generous Uncle Sam will pay for almost any health ailments for some Americans. That’s the comforting message those recipients—about 16 million low-to-middle income folks. Eventually, this little-noticed part of Obamacare will cost billions, probably eventually trillions of dollars. To start, the federal and state governments between 2010 and 2019, will dish out a mere $6.8 billion. That the best determination of Richard S. Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Those figures are tucked away in tables accompanying lengthy reports. But they represent only a tip of the potential mountain of outlays that lie ahead.
Public concern has focused primarily on the law’s provisions relating to charges other individuals will be demanded to fork over for medical treatment. Twenty states are mounting legal challenges to Obamacare’s mandate to buy health insurance. In the battleground state of Missouri seven in ten voted Aug. 3 against the mandate). In Virginia, a federal judge August 2 allowed the state’s lawsuit defying the insurance mandate to go forward.
Not surprisingly, few, if any, of those 16 million who are promised magnanimous care are complaining. Taxpayers, however, should be, if they are made aware of the future Olympian costs. The easily brushed-aside Medicaid program, together with the so-called CHIP health program for children, offer the most comprehensive U.S. health programs in existence. Among the entitled 16 million (although it maybe as high as 18 million), Medicaid will be paying, beginning in 2014 for all health care costs of anyone making up to 133 percent (although a footnote says 138 percent) of the Federal Poverty Level (now $14,404). After three years, it will be $19,877 a year. For a typical American family of four, Medicaid will care for those earning up to $47,200 by 2017, according to a senior specialist at CMS. In 2017, the amount paid by the federal government will decrease slowly each year, reaching 90 percent in 2020 where it will remain. The states will have to pick up the balance from then on, in this Federal-state sharing program that is Medicaid. Only a consummate bureaucrat could have concocted this intricate system.
Some 13 percent of all children up to age 18 live in poverty. Ten percent are white, Thirty-five percent are black and are more subject to health problems. Twenty-nine percent are Hispanic. Fifty percent of blacks are in female household families. These are the prime customers of Medicaid.
Even families earning incomes up to $88,000 will have their medical bills largely subsidized under the new Medicaid program. Usually expensive long-term care will not be a financial problem for these lucky ones either; free care in a nursing home for life is a guarantee. This enormous give-away begins in 2014. Families making up to $88,000 will get refundable tax credits. IRS will give money to insurance companies in new state “exchanges” to enable the higher-earning Medicaid families to purchase their health care. So, IRS will be taking on another social engineering job, just as it has run the Earned Income Credit (EIC) program. This, even though IRS has not had a stellar record in money management. In 2005, for instance, its Inspector General found 28 percent of the $40 billion paid out for Earned Income Credit was fraudulent, Accounting WEB.com reported.
Medicaid, plugging along since its creation in 1965, is jointly funded by both the federal and state governments. Among the groups currently served by Medicaid are eligible citizens and resident aliens, including relatively low-income adults and their children and people with certain disabilities. Even before Obamacare gets into gear, Medicaid is already the largest source of dollars for medical services for the needy. The fastest growing area of Medicaid is nursing-home coverage because of the aging World War II and Korean Conflict era generation. But an even larger explosion in cost for taxpayers will come beginning in 2020 when some of the baby boom generation begins to seek nursing home care.
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