Last night, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) cautioned against Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, telling Fox’s Greta Van Susteren that “a great number” of the people who would be eligible for the expansion — many of whom live in conservative states that have pledged to deny the program — already have health insurance:
VAN SUSTEREN: But the people that are in this window. This 133 percent.
BACHMANN: If you make 133 percent above poverty.
VAN SUSTEREN: Those people, the thinking under Obamacare is that they would be covered by Medicaid expansion, right?
BACHMANN: But remember, it isn’t that all those people don’t have health insurance now. A great number of those people already have health insurance.
Under Obamacare, those people Bachmann cites would indeed be able to keep their health insurance if they have it. The Medicaid expansion — which the federal government will bankroll from 2014–2016 and then pay 90 percent of costs thereafter — is designed to incorporate those who do not yet have health insurance.
In fact, millions of newly eligible people would be denied coverage if various Republican governors make good on their promise to impede the Medicaid expansion. In Florida, for example, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has promised to reject the Medicaid expansion, denying 1 million new Floridians health insurance.
When pressed by Van Susteren on who would foot the bill for uncompensated care when an uninsured person “ends up in a serious car accident,” Bachmann dismissed the question. “That’s the example the president continues to give, but that’s a tiny percentage,” she argued. “The answer is to bring down the price of health care.”
In 2008, the federal government spent nearly $50 billion on uncompensated care, and the Medicaid expansion would ultimately bring down costs. The Urban Institute estimates that 21 to 45 states will save money by taking the Medicaid expansion, and doctors and hospitals wouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for uncompensated care.