Should New Mexico expand Medicaid? UNM economist says yes but UNM doctor says no
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An economist at the University of New Mexico says if the state decides to extend Medicaid benefits, as many as 10,000 new jobs could be generated but a doctor at UNM says expanding Medicaid will be “financially devastating for the state.”
Appearing at the Economic Forum of Albuquerque on Aug. 23, Lee Reynis of the university’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, told the audience, “We should seriously consider saying ‘yes’ to Medicaid expansion,” saying ”It’s a chance to develop health-care infrastructure in the state, especially in rural areas.”
But the same day, UNM pediatric cardiologist Dr. Deane Waldman told an audience at a health care discussion that Medicaid expansion “is bad for patients,” asking, “Where’s the money coming from?”
The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known by some as “Obamacare”) offers individual states a chance to expand Medicaid. For New Mexico, the deal consists of having the state pay up to $500 million over a six-year period and in return, the federal government promises to give New Mexico $6.2 billion in funds.
Reynis says should New Mexico take the deal, her modeling predicts 1,500 new jobs in health care will be created by 2014, 5,000 new jobs will be added by 2020, with spending by those new workers resulting in additional hiring that she says could lead to 10,000 jobs altogether.
But Dr. Waldman says, “Although it looks on paper like it’s a good deal, it’s a very bad deal.”
Waldman insists the Medicaid expansion under ACA would increase government subsidies and decrease patient care.
“Let’s say [the federal government] fulfills their promises, which I have questions about … it’s not free money,” Waldman said. “Where’s it coming from? Ultimately, we have to pay the debt of the money they’re printing … Five years from now [New Mexico] can’t reduce the eligibility requirements. That would be against the law. And if the money’s not there, we, New Mexico, is going to have to pay for it.”
Gov. Susana Martinez is expected to make a decision on whether to expand Medicaid for New Mexico within the coming weeks, perhaps days.
Across the country, 12 states (including California, New York and Illinois) have accepted the feds’ offer while seven others (Florida, Louisiana) have turned it down and eight others (Texas and Michigan) have governors who have indicated they will turn it down.
(Full disclosure: Dr. Deane Waldman is an adjunct scholar for the Rio Grande Foundation, which funds Capitol Report New Mexico.)
Click here to read the Albuquerque Journal story about Lee Reynis’ prediction of 10,000 jobs added if New Mexico signs up for the Medicaid expansion. (Sorry, subscription required.)
And click here to read an 8-page paper Dr. Waldman wrote for the Rio Grande Foundation advocating against the state taking the expansion.
And here’s a 6-minute interview Capitol Report New Mexico conducted with Waldman, in which he also talks about why he is against the Affordable Care Act and why he thinks it will worsen the shortage of doctors in the country:
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Affordable Care Act, Albuquerque Journal, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Capitol Report New Mexico, Dr. Deane Waldman, Economic Forum of Albuquerque, Lee Reynis, Medicaid, Rio Grande Foundation, Susana Martinez