Rep. Mike Kennedy on Medicaid Expansion

Rep. Mike Kennedy recently spoke with his county delegates about Medicaid expansion. I thought his comments were valuable to the discussion and asked him to put something in writing which I could share with others. These are his thoughts. Thank you Rep. Kennedy.


Mike KennedyThe State of Utah has been debating for years now about what to do with the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare (ACA) Medicaid expansion.  An estimated sixty to one hundred thousand adults between the ages of 27 and 64 currently have no health insurance. These individuals are not disabled and do not make enough money to qualify for federal subsidies to buy their own insurance.

The problem is complex.  There are many ways to analyze this issue in favor of and against the concept.  I have boiled the issue down to what I consider to be the most important aspects of the debate.

Medicaid expansion is about control.  It is not about health insurance, and it is not about health care.  I have two reasons for believing this.

  1. If it were about health insurance and health care, the Federal government would take our estimated $800 million/year in Utah taxes, put it in a grand health savings account, and instruct the state of Utah to use this money in whatever way we saw fit to provide health insurance for our people.  Instead, the Federal government has taken our money, and promised to give it back if we use it in their prescribed way to provide insurance for our people.  At first, they will allow us to use this money to aid people in obtaining private health insurance.  I believe, however, at some point in the near future, the private insurance option will be discontinued, and all of the individuals will be shunted into our traditional Medicaid system.  Why do I believe that?  Because that was how the original 2010 ACA was written.  The Federal government wants our citizens in Medicaid because that is the system it controls.
  2. If it were about anything but control, we wouldn’t have to ask for permission from the Federal government to craft a plan to their approval.  As noted earlier, it is our money being taken.  Why do we need permission from the Federal government for any plan we create to provide health insurance for some of our most vulnerable citizens?  The answer is control.

If we as a state choose to expand Medicaid, we give up state autonomy.  We more deeply commit ourselves to Federal benefits and Federal obligations.  Once these commitments are made, we can never turn back from them.

More disturbingly, we encourage more of our citizens to give up their own autonomy.  Another Federal entitlement program expansion means more of our people will be dependent on the Federal government for their personal daily needs.

In order to maintain the independence of our state and our people, I say no to Medicaid expansion.  In doing so, I understand that Utah is losing money to the Federal government.  We should work to get the $800 million/year in taxes repealed rather than accept that money back with never-ending Federal obligations that will become more onerous as time progresses.

Freedom is costly.  Together, we should be willing to pay the price of it by saying “no” to Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Mike Kennedy

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