Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 10, 2013

CONFER: Cost of Medicaid is unreasonable

Niagara Gazette — If you’re a homeowner you know that Medicaid has a dreadful effect on the overall quality of life of those who don’t use its services. More than half of your Niagara County property tax bill goes towards Medicaid, costing you hundreds of dollars every year. Combine that with what else you put into the Medicaid’s coffers (state and federal income taxes and 1 full percentage point from local sales taxes) and you discover that each Medicaid recipient in New York costs $16,000 per year while the average family of four on Medicaid places a burden of $64,000 on taxpayers.

If you and/or your employer pay for your health care you know those numbers are unreasonable. In comparison, a single-subscriber plan through an HMO is slightly more than $4,000 per year while a family plan is just under $12,000. That’s 75 percent and 81 percent less than their respective Medicaid counterparts.

From the standpoint of equality, that’s a major source of frustration for any reasonable taxpayer. He or she must cut coupons, corners and family budgets to pay for increasingly-costly health insurance and property tax bills, while others are receiving, with minimal effort, Cadillac coverage for free.

But above and beyond the concept of fairness, there’s the issue of fiscal responsibility. How can that same penny-wise New Yorker and the elected officials he or she puts into office take seriously the extravagance – if not waste – of our Medicaid program? Should it really be 4 or 5 times more expensive than private insurance? The answer is "no".

Albany politicians have been talking about Medicaid reform for years, all of them to a man knowing that the system is broken. Yet, the talk has been nothing more than that. If anything, reform has been in the wrong direction, actually loosening eligibility requirements and adding even more pricy gimmicks.

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