by Brian Balfour
Senior Vice President of Research, John Locke Foundation
WRAL editorial cartoonist Dennis Draughon published the above cartoon this week in an attempt to show how ignorant opponents of Medicaid expansion must be.
The cartoon features Gov. Cooper showing all the supposed benefits of Medicaid expansion, and a stubborn Phil Berger nevertheless insisting it makes for bad policy.
The cartoon, however, sends a message far different from the one Draughon intended.
For starters, several of the supposed benefits of Medicaid expansion listed by the cartoon Cooper have been thoroughly debunked in the past.
But far more telling is that the chart cartoon Cooper is pointing to has no negatives listed. As if an endeavor as massive as stuffing another 600,000 human beings into an already crowded Medicaid system, at the cost of billions of dollars, mostly funded from an already-broke federal government, will have absolutely no downside.
This oversimplified argumentation signifies that expansion proponents are not interested in debate. We are all familiar with the “pro/con” method of making decisions, in which the pluses and negatives are listed side by side to better inform the decision. Cooper’s poster lists only the “pro” side of the ledger (and those are mostly false anyway), while leaving off the equally important “con” side of the ledger.
As this cartoon demonstrates, expansion advocates think they can wish away any negatives, and attempt to convince the public that there are no cons to expansion, rather than engage in honest debate.
As the great Thomas Sowell has reminded us “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.”
In the case of expansion, there are massive costs and trade-offs involved, including the lack of access to care for enrollees of a rapidly growing overcrowded Medicaid program, the increased use of expensive emergency rooms that comes with expansion, massive new debt required by the federal government to fund their share, major new taxes on hospitals to fund their share (a share very likely to vastly exceed projections), the potential of the newly-covered population crowding out care for the traditional Medicaid population, etc, etc.
Draughon unwittingly reveals the fact that simple-minded expansion supporters refuse to even acknowledge these costs and trade-offs, signifying the weakness of their position.