Democrats begin a health care do-over
Congressional Democrats seem to have lost touch with reality when they passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They simply assumed that what they commanded, the nation could automatically deliver.
But as Daily Mail Capitol Reporter Zack Harold reported Monday, there may not be enough doctors in West Virginia willing to take Medicaid to care for all the people who will be entitled to Medicaid by Oct. 1.
And that is not the only unrealistic expectation the president's supporters wrote into law.
But first, Medicaid: About 183,000 people in West Virginia are currently covered by the program, which is largely supported by the federal government but which West Virginia taxpayers underwrite as well.
Because congressional Democrats extended eligibility - now limited to those with incomes of about $8,200 for a family of four - to about $32,500 for a family of that size, the state expects an additional 94,000 people to apply for Medicaid coverage as early as Oct. 1.
That would bring the number of people in West Virginia covered by Medicaid to about 277,000.
But only about 2,100 primary care doctors in West Virginia accept the Medicaid card, said Penney Hall of the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The state pays providers so little for seeing Medicaid patients that they lose money when they do.
"At St. Francis Hospital in downtown Charleston, private insurance companies pay about 20 cents [on the dollar] above cost," Harold wrote. "Medicaid pays the hospital only about 20 cents on the dollar."
Thus, an unknown number of providers in the state limit how many Medicaid patients they will care for.
Who knows how that will work out.
And it gets worse.
Last week, the White house said it would simply waive the part of Democrats' law that required employers to offer insurance to workers. This created another problem.
People are supposed to get subsidies to buy insurance on state "exchanges" only if their employers don't cover them. The size of the subsidies were to depend on income.
But on Friday, the administration said that since it will not require businesses to report benefits until 2015, state "exchange bureaucracies" need not verify income when people apply for subsidies.
People can lie about how much income they have and still get subsidies from taxpayers.
This "bending the cost curve" business is likely, for taxpayers, to be in an upward direction.