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[MM Curator Summary]: In which an opiner suggests the unthinkable.
About one in five Americans are enrolled in Medicaid and the program now makes up about a quarter of all state spending. (AP Photo)
Last week, the Biden administration released a plan that would open up Medicaid and Obamacare to nearly 580,000 undocumented immigrants. Never mind that the federal deficit is projected to reach $1.4 trillion this year. What’s another few billion dollars?
The proposed rule centers around the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children to live and work here without being deported. DACA recipients aren’t citizens. So they’re not eligible to enroll in most government health programs, like Medicaid and Obamacare. President Joe Biden wants to change that. And he wants to do so at a time when federal spending on health insurance is already spiraling out of control. Medicaid, for instance, cost $734 billion in 2021, the latest year for which data are available. That’s a nearly 10% increase from the year before and amounts to more than one of every six dollars the nation spent on healthcare in 2021.
Or consider Obamacare. The Inflation Reduction Act extended more generous subsidies for exchange coverage through 2025 at a cost of $64 billion . Extending them permanently, which is what Democrats are hoping to do, would increase the federal deficit by nearly $248 billion between 2023 and 2032. It’s not yet clear how much expanding federal healthcare to DACA recipients would cost. But one need only look to California to make an educated guess.
The state has committed to offering Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, to all low-income adults aged 26 to 49 regardless of immigration status starting in 2024 — about 700,000 people. (California already provides Medi-Cal to undocumented children and seniors.) The cost of the expansion is expected to be $844.5 million in 2023-24, $2.1 billion the following year, and $2.5 billion annually thereafter.
Extrapolate those costs to the entire country, and Biden’s proposed expansion of federal health coverage to DACA recipients stands out as yet another exorbitant expansion of government healthcare programs — one that taxpayers simply can’t afford.
Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All (Encounter 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes.