Responsible Solutions Require an Honest Assessment of the Facts

January 11, 2012 by

It’s about income.

Maine Equal Justice Partners recently released a critical report that tells the true story about MaineCare’s Childless Adult Waiver Program.  Media coverage was extensive, but failed to include any critical assessment of the claims made by the report’s naysayer.

The Maine Heritage Policy Center’s (MHPC) Lance Dutson made the most audacious claim that the current policy of providing health insurance to childless adults making less than $10,890 a year hurts the private insurance market. Dutson told Maine Public Radio that “when people are able-bodied, young people that are being pulled out of the private insurance market, I think that’s a group of people we have to look at.”

Dutson’s assertion assumes two things, both of which are false.  63%of the low-income adults covered by this program are 35 or older and 43% are 45 or older.  MEJP also cites DHHS analysis that found 47 percent of program participants fell into a major diagnosis grouping of cancer or disease; 24 percent had a diagnosis categorized as a mental disorder, and 11 percent were treated for an injury or poisoning– hardly the young and able-bodied population that Dutson suggests. In fact, if these individuals showed up in the private insurance market, rather than decrease the costs of insurance for everyone else rates would likely increase because of the level of services they would require.  If they had no insurance at all, the cost for care they receive would shift to health care providers in the form of uncompensated care, to local communities in the form of increased requests for general assistance and to the premiums of the insured when providers raise their rates to compensate. Shifting costs is merely a shell game which none of us wins.

This raises a critical question.  How can anyone with an income of less than $11,000 per year, even if they are young and able-bodied, ever afford meaningful private insurance coverage in the first place?

MHPC’s ideologically inspired vision of a perfectly competitive private insurance market that would dramatically increase access to care for all people is a fantasy particularly if people don’t earn enough to pay for coverage.  Suggesting that providing MaineCare coverage to low-income childless adults somehow hurts the private insurance market doesn’t even pass the straight face test.

The world is not flat and it is time we challenge the statements of those who would suggest otherwise.  When credible evidence is available to refute such claims failing to hold the critics accountable is irresponsible.

3 Responses to “Responsible Solutions Require an Honest Assessment of the Facts”
  1. Mimi says:

    Thank you for exposing the facts to the light of day.

  2. Garrett Martin says:

    Mimi – thanks for your comment. While some argue that facts don’t matter in our political discourse, here at MECEP we beg to differ. We take seriously our role of providing credible analysis based on the best available information. We will continue to work hard to expose the facts in search of the best possible policy solutions.

  3. Tim yerxa says:

    Just suffered through the biggest partisan bunch of lies I have ever had the displeasure of viewing. I will not try to see the other side of thestates problems again by watching this mess. Shows like this should have some accountability to truth to its viewers. Your union rep that complained about budget cuts affecting a supplemental budget is pure lies. the cuts do not come into effect until 2013.The farce that we should ask anyone to pay more into a system that loses, wastes and pads their own pockets is crazy. With millions missing, wasted computer systems and low income housing owned by our legislature getting millions needs to be fixed before throwing more money at them. The days of democrats buying votes through entitlements are over. The state can no longer afford failed policies started by past admins. All three of your guests and the moderator offered no answers of meeting the shortfall just talking point rhetoric. Maybe if Mr. lepage gets some of the wasted programs from the past and rein in the sloppy (at best) appropriation of the past we can better help the people that actually need help. How about stop the payment of travel for the clinics to dish out its drugs. How about anyone that can work takes a job and pitch in.Eveyone needs to have skin in this recovery. Asking anyone to add to a corrupt system when they are already carrying the lions share is ridiculous. This type of tax and waste is why the democrats are a failing party in Maine. To use some of the democrats rhetoric Mainers should not give the keys back to a party that run the state into a ditch. Until dems realize this their party will continue to decline.

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