by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In recent days, California lawmakers have finalized their budget. The legislation includes several choices regarding health care and Obamacare, most of them incorrect ones. Doling out more government largesse won’t solve rising health costs, and it will cause more unintended consequences in the process.
This move has drawn the most attention, as the budget bill expands Medicaid coverage to illegally present adults aged 19-26. California will pay the full share of this Medicaid spending, as the federal government will not subsidize health coverage for foreign citizens illegally present in the United States.
Sad as it may sound, expanding coverage to “only” some law-breaking foreigners represented a compromise. Liberal lawmakers originally wanted to expand Medicaid to all illegal residents, at a cost of $3.4 billion. But California Gov. Gavin Newsom objected to the price tag, so lawmakers agreed to fund benefits solely for the 19-26 population, and delayed its implementation until January 1, 2020. …
… Obamacare epitomized the problems that policy-makers face in subsidizing health insurance. The federal law includes a subsidy “cliff” at 400 percent of the poverty level. Households making just under that threshold can receive federal subsidies that could total as much as $5,000-$10,000 for a family, but if their income rises even one dollar above that “cliff,” they lose all eligibility for those subsidies.
By penalizing individuals whose incomes rise even marginally, the subsidy “cliff” discourages work. That’s one of the main reasons the Congressional Budget Office said Obamacare would reduce the labor supply by the equivalent of 2.5 million full-time jobs.
California decided to replace these work disincentives with yet more spending on subsidies.