by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
“As a general rule, the public and politicians should never view economic impact studies as anything more than an attempt by special interests to manipulate public opinion for their own benefit.”
Dr. Roy Cordato wrote this statement back in December 2018. Time after time, impact studies come out proving his point. Now Dr. Cordato once again finds himself debunking the allegedly scientific and objective natures of an economic impact study in his latest opinion piece published in Carolina Journal.
The study that inspired Dr. Cordato was “The Economic and Employment Benefits of Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina,” a study underwritten by the Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. Immediately, the title is awfully telling, Cordato writes:
[T]he title quite honestly acknowledges there will be no discussion of the costs of Medicaid expansion, only the benefits. This speaks volumes. The analysis doesn’t even pretend to be weighing the economic pros and cons of Medicaid expansion, only the pros.
This is not a surprise. According to Cordato, there is a “dirty little secret” in economic impact studies:
[T]hey are designed to give one kind of result — positive. As I have argued, the “possibility that a subsidy … can generate negative results for the economy, i.e., lose jobs, reduce incomes, or shrink GDP, is ruled out. …” The Cone Reynolds study is no exception.
Cordato points to the fact that the Cone Health Foundation is closely aligned with health care provider Cone Health. Cone Health stands to benefit from Medicaid expansion, as it would ultimately be a recipient of the government funds from expansion. As for The Reynolds Charitable Trust, the president of the trust is a member of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Cooper recently vetoed the budget over lack of Medicaid Expansion. Collectively, Dr. Cordato writes:
The fact is that neither of the funders of this study can be seen as “truth seekers” that are simply trying to provide objective analysis to the public. Both are pursuing a pro-Medicaid expansion agenda.
In short, Cordato explains:
In assessing the economic effects of Medicaid expansion, the people of North Carolina are presented with a study funded by two special interest advocacy groups, written by three authors with no credentials in economics.