The Obama administration and the Democrat Party have told Americans that the reason ObamaCare was needed is because millions of people have not been eligible for health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. A 2011 report from the Department of Justice, however, contains the truth. Less than a million Americans are without health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Yet, at least 35 percent of Americans are uninsured because they are convicted criminals.
As Avik Roy reported at Forbes, in 2010 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the ability of ObamaCare to offer health insurance coverage to more people would be derived from an expansion of Medicaid. In 2012, however, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not be forced into expanding their Medicaid programs, and, subsequently, 25 states have not done so.
However, on July 6, 2011, this data point appeared in the Federal Register:
The changes occurring as a result of healthcare reform will significantly affect the ways individuals can access public health insurance and services. Estimates indicate that at least 35 percent of new Medicaid eligibles under the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare] will have a history of criminal justice system involvement. (Calculations based on the estimated size of newly eligible population, the size of the justice involved population and the share of that population without insurance.) This overlap between the reentering population and Medicaid eligible provides the opportunity to jumpstart the enrollment process for health care coverage through Medicaid on a broader scale as part of the reentry planning process…
According to Roy, DOJ came to its conclusion by observing that about 10 million Americans are either in jail or released from prison each year. With about 60 percent of these being uninsured and in the Medicaid eligible income range, and the Medicaid expansion estimated to cover 16 million people, then over 35 percent of the Medicaid expansion group consists of convicted criminals.
In fact, the New York Times emphasized this fact in an article on March 9. Writer Erica Goode observed that a “little-noticed outcome” of President Obama’s signature health care legislation is that “jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid…”
ObamaCare supporters say the Medicaid expansion associated with the health law will keep ex-convicts out of jail because, perhaps, they will remain on necessary medication.
People coming out of jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, especially mental illness and addictive disorders. Few, however, have insurance, and many would qualify for Medicaid under the income test for the program — 138 percent of the poverty line — in the 25 states that have elected to expand their programs.
Rick Raemisch, executive director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections, said that his state would save “several million dollars” each year from billing Medicaid for hospital care.
As Roy notes, however, Medicaid is a very expensive and inefficient centrally planned health program “rife with waste, fraud, and abuse.”
“You can be sure that there are plenty of taxpayers who work hard and play by the rules, who are wondering why they should pay more in taxes for this purpose,” writes Roy. “It’s certainly not what they were told they were paying for when ObamaCare was passed.”