On the Tuesday evening edition of Politics Nation, host Rev. Al Sharpton took a break from his seemingly continual coverage of the George Zimmerman trial to talk about healthcare. He touted the recent decision by the Obama administration to push the to 2015 as implementation of the employee mandate requirement of the Affordable Care Act back the administration’s decision to give “employers more time to provide coverage.” [Link to the audio here]
Sharpton then vilified the decisions by several states to reject ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion provision by claiming that it showed the GOP’s “absolute disregard for this crisis” despite Obama’s “extra effort” to ease the transition in postponing the employee mandate.
For a while now, Sharpton and a fair number of his colleagues at MSNBC have been purporting their coverage of Republican opposition to Medicaid expansion because of their sponsorship and participation in a free clinic that was held on Wednesday in New Orleans in conjunction with the National Association of Free Clinics.
In his condemnation of Republicans, Sharpton reported that two more states, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, seemed to be progressing toward joining 21 other states in rejecting federal funding to expand Medicaid. However, this fact seemed to be “head-scratching” to him as he could not fathom why states would “throw away federal money” to fund a program that “won’t cost them a dime for the next few years.”
Unfortunately, it seems like Rev. Sharpton neglected to try to research and report on the specifics of why those 21 states rejected the expansion.
According to an Advisiory.com roundup of every state’s stance on the issue, a number of Southern Governors have cited their state’s inability to fund the program as the main issue to rejecting the expansion. While Sharpton’s claim that this expansion will not cost them for “the next few years” is accurate, it is truly only a few. The federal government will completely cover the cost of this extension of Medicaid until 2016, when the states will begin splitting the bill with the feds as they currently do for Medicaid recipients.
Additionally, Sharpton’s claim that all these states are walking away from a combined $346 billion dollars in federal funds is simply erroneous. A few states, like South Carolina and Texas, have refused their total allotment of funds, but many more states, like Tennessee and North Carolina among others, have stated that they would consider accepting funds in order to transition Medicaid patients to private insurance.
On top of that, Sharpton completely ignored the main problem of waste within the Medicaid programs that will only be exacerbated if it is expanded. There have been a variety of reports by the House Oversight Committee and the Senate Finance Committee that have conducted several case studies of Medicaid that have shown rampant waste within the program. Late last year, Politico reported on bipartisan Congressional demand for a Government Accountability Office to launch an investigation to try to put a dollar sign on the healthcare waste in America. In the report, the GOA found that Medicaid had made almost $22 million in bad payments in 2011, which the highest percentage of total funds of any government entitlement program.
While ObamaCare does make some attempts at reform by promising to pay doctors more for their services, it does not even begin to address the issues of the wasteful spending that is rampant in Medicaid or the low quality of care that Medicaid participants receive.
However, what is perhaps the most lamentable part of Sharpton and MSNBC’s coverage of this issue is that they tried to mask it though their support of the free clinic in New Orleans. It is certainly commendable that MSNBC would support this clinic, even though the clinic continually pushes liberal policies. However, their support should not therefore give the network and its hosts license to push its leftist personal views on an issue while disguising them as actual news.
For reference, the transcript of Sharpton’s monologue is provided below:
July 2, 2013
6:27 p.m. Eastern
AL SHARPTON: Right now in America, millions are living without insurance. But the president's health care law is poised to make a big difference, and the administration is doing everything it can to make it work. Today, we learned that the administration is giving employers more time to provide coverage for their employees. But despite that extra effort, the GOP is showing absolute disregard for this crisis. Today, we learned a Tea Party lawsuit challenging Kentucky's Medicaid expansion is moving forward. In Pennsylvania, state Republicans are making moves to kill that state's program too. Both states could end up joining the 21 others that have blocked Medicaid expansion. And why is that so head-scratching? Well, they're literally throwing away federal money. All told, these 21 states are rejecting $346 billion. They're saying no to a program that won't cost them a dime for the next few years. And as a result, they're leaving nearly 10 million people without any insurance. How is this happening in America? That's why tomorrow we're proud to partner on a free health clinic, a free health care clinic in New Orleans. And we're going there with the National Association of Free Clinics.