As we mentioned earlier today, Sen. Mitch McConnell made some truly bizarre statements this week in Oldham County about how gender discrimination is practically over because there are female CEOs in America and the way out of student debt is to go into the debt-accelerating factories of the for-profit college industry. While these statements might show that McConnell is out of touch with women, students, recent graduates and people who aren’t worth $20 million like himself, he also made one statement concerning Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid that is simply out of touch with reality.
Explaining to the audience why tuition is so high, McConnell tried to pin the blame on Medicaid costs, assisted by a huge deception on Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid (another h/t to the Oldham Era):
“Let me just give you an idea of why college tuition continues to go up as fast as it does in Kentucky. The two biggest expenses in every state budget: education and Medicaid. As the Medicaid costs for state government rise, education expenses get cut. Under Obamacare the governor made a unilateral decision to dramatically expand Medicaid. The federal government is going to pick up the costs for the first three years, and after that, you’re on your own. So these guys are confronted with a Hobson’s choice: cut Medicaid or cut education. What ends up happening is they don’t fund education as much as they otherwise would, because Medicaid expenses are rising. Those are passed on to the public universities and they raise tuition. This spiraling cost of health care is even having an impact on the cost of education. And we’ve only exacerbated that problem with Obamacare.”
So the federal government picks up the cost of Medicaid for three years, and then Kentucky is “on our own?” In fact, that is not even remotely close to being true. After those three years McConnell refers to, the federal government continues to pick up nearly the entire tab until 2020, when the federal government pays 90 percent and Kentucky pays 10 percent. “On our own” implies either 100 percent or at least the typical 30 percent under Medicaid, not 10 percent or less.
And if McConnell is concerned about Kentucky being able to pay that 10 percent by 2020, the two independent analyses by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville actually show that Kentucky’s budget saves more money by choosing to expand Medicaid, with a revenue increase of $802 million by 2021, instead of a projected loss if Kentucky chose not to expand, largely due to savings on uncompensated care and growth in the health care industry. If McConnell has a study to show that these numbers are wrong, he hasn’t shared it with anyone.
And if you remember McConnell’s “unKynected” fiasco from May, his campaign manager said that Kentucky could continue the Medicaid expansion even if the ACA was repealed. And how could Kentucky do that? By passing legislation in which Kentucky pays for this expansion at a rate that would more accurately be described as “on our own,” which would total anywhere from $450 to $584 million next year alone — money that we would not have to pay, otherwise.
I’d say that McConnell is simply confused and misinformed if I didn’t know any better, but he is clearly in political survival mode, and he’s apparently willing to say anything that will save his skin, facts be damned.
Gov. Steve Beshear sent along this statement to LEO on McConnell’s statement in Buckner this week:
“Either Sen. McConnell doesn’t know how both Kentucky’s budget and federal Medicaid funding works … or this is campaign season, and he’s worried about his political future. Either way, his “either-or” explanation is disingenuous and inaccurate. Obviously both education and health care are critical to building a stronger workforce in Kentucky, and we’re making progress in both areas while holding down growing costs, thanks in part to the ACA. As Sen. McConnell well knows, while Kentucky will start paying a small match for expanded Medicaid in 2017, even at full implementation in 2020, the federal government will still be paying 90 percent of the program costs.”