President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative “accomplishment,” and a major part of his legacy, is the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” While it was hailed as a remedy to the supposed health care crisis, it ended up being one of the worst scams ever perpetrated on the American people.
Now the true cost of Obamacare is becoming known—and that cost is being measured in not just dollars, but human lives. A new study by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) found that nearly 22,000 “truly needy” Americans have died while languishing on Medicaid waiting lists — even as Medicaid expansions under Obamacare enrolled millions of able-bodied people.
Obamacare Penalizes the Truly Needy
Obamacare was sold to Americans on the premise helping the needy get medical coverage. As recently as late 2016, liberal media outlets were still touting the benefits of Obamacare while claiming that then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was the better presidential candidate in part because she would uphold the controversial act.
And yet, people with critical needs still aren’t getting the help they need. Skylar Overman, an Arkansas girl born with a rare condition that requires full-time care, waited for over 10 years on a Medicaid waiting list to get the help she needed — and as of last fall, she’s still waiting, even as Arkansas expanded Medicaid to enroll nearly 300,000 people.
According to the FGA study, the home and community-based waiver services program, or HCBS, allows states to extend Medicaid services to people who might otherwise be institutionalized. HCBS recipients include people like Skylar, who have “severe intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and mental illnesses, among other debilitating conditions.”
Under the program, people who would qualify for a nursing home or another long-term care institution can instead receive needed services at home or on an outpatient basis. As FGA explains:
Benefits for these vulnerable individuals can include homemaker or home health aide services, personal care, adult day health care, habilitation, respite care, day treatment, psycho-social rehabilitation services, clinic services for individuals with chronic mental illness, and more.
However, states can also limit enrollment — and after the cap is reached, applicants are placed on waiting lists. Some wait for years, even decades.
Medicaid Expansion Diverts Funds
Under Obamacare, many states opted to expand Medicaid in 2016, spending billions to enroll “a new class of able-bodied adults,” while at the time, these same states had nearly 250,000 needy people on their HCBS waiting lists. As the FGA study authors point out:
While Obamacare did not create these waiting lists, it is increasing the likelihood that truly needy individuals will never get the help they need by diverting billions of dollars to able-bodied adults.
In Maryland, nearly 300,000 more able-bodied adults signed up for Medicaid under the Obamacare expansion, 103% than the program could hold. Meanwhile, 8,495 Maryland residents died while waiting on the state’s HCBS waiting list.
In Louisiana, over 450,000 people have been enrolled under the Medicare expansion. But over 5,000 people died while still waiting for HCBS services.
Overall, nearly 22,000 people have died while still waiting for services, according to records from a dozen states obtained by the FGA. But since some states don’t keep records of waiting list deaths, the real number is likely even higher.
How Can This Be?
Obamacare was designed to help the needy—at least that’s what Americans were told. Now, billions of dollars are being spent to provide coverage for healthy Americans — and the needy are still waiting for help.
President Donald Trump has said he would repeal Obamacare and “develop a great new health care plan.” He faces an uphill battle, but unless he can fulfill that promise, more Americans will die while waiting for help that isn’t coming.
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