In a statement released by the O’Brien for Congress campaign, former state House Speaker Bill O’Brien blasted Congresswoman Ann Kuster for not voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“If fully implemented, Obamacare will hijack and wreck not only the finances of the federal government, but also our state’s finances,” he wrote. O’Brien also took the opportunity to trash Medicaid. Obamacare “will throw millions of Americans on Medicaid,” he complained:
Medicaid relies on substantial contributions from local taxpayers, yet it doesn’t even pay for half the cost of service to its recipients. It does all of this — or, none of this rather — while failing to provide better health outcomes than being uninsured, according to a study of Medicaid expansion in Oregon.
About that Medicaid study.
O’Brien was referring to the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, a landmark, randomized study of the effect expanding public health insurance has on the health care use, health outcomes, financial strain, and well-being of low-income adults.
O’Brien cherry picked the early results to declare Medicaid a failure. Ezra Klein explains the results of the study, so far, are decidedly more encouraging:
So here’s what happened in the first two years of the Oregon Medicaid experiment: Medicaid proved itself good health insurance. The people who got Medicaid used more health care, and seem to have done so smartly — they got preventive care, they got their diabetes diagnosed and began managing it, they treated their depression, and so on. But the health care itself didn’t work as well as we hoped — at least not in terms of cutting rates of hypertension and cholesterol. …
We don’t know why hypertension and cholesterol levels were unchanged, writes Klein. “We don’t know if the results speak to the health care you get through all health insurance or just Medicaid or if they’re just an artifact of the study’s timeframe and sample size,” he explained.
Regardless, Klein notes there is “voluminous evidence that managing diabetes and treating depression and being able to go to the doctor improves health. You have to be willing to throw quite a lot of existing theory and evidence out the window to believe that stuff won’t pay off down the road.”