Legislators Say Oregon Study is Further Evidence the Medicaid Expansion is Wrong for Wisconsin

MacIver News Service | January 8, 2014

[Madison, Wisc…] A recent report that Medicaid enrollees go to the emergency room more often than individuals that are uninsured provided more proof to Wisconsin Republican legislators that they made the right move in rejecting the federal Medicaid expansion.

The MacIver News Service (MNS) reported Monday on recently released data from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment. The information released said that over an 18-month period, Medicaid enrollees went to the emergency room 40 percent more than those that were uninsured.

This is in stark contrast to what supporters of the massive federal Medicaid expansion have argued previously.

Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, told MNS the study shows that government is not the answer on health care.

“The numbers from the Oregon study are evidence that Governor Walker made the right decision not to expand Medicaid. As usual, government isn’t the answer,” Vukmir said. “The best solutions, as conservatives have always said, will come from a free market approach that empowers individuals to have greater control over their health care decisions.”

Members in the Assembly echoed Vukmir’s sentiment.

“This study is just further proof that Gov. Walker’s decision not to trust the Obama Administration and resist expanding Medicaid was the best decision for our state,” Rep. Joe Sanfelippo told MacIver News.

Rep. Erik Severson (R-Osceola), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health and a doctor, was not surprised by the results of the Oregon study.

“I don’t think any medical professional was surprised by this result. Medicaid expansion incentivizes people to utilize the E.R. rather than waiting to go to a primary care doctor,” Severson said.

“When Medicaid will simply cover the cost of an E.R. visit with no out of pocket expenses, why go anywhere else? Rather than trying to provide the same coverage to every single person, we should be focused on providing the right kind of coverage for the people who need it most.”