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It’s free money! That’s the line used by actor Jimmy Fallon in a series of credit card commercials. It is also the line increasingly being used by advocates of Medicaid expansion here in New Mexico and across the nation.
After all, who but a bunch of anti-social, uncaring, right wing conservatives could possibly turn down “free” money?
The answer is that anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of economics knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch or “free” money. Even barring that first-semester ECON 101 lesson, in this case the money doesn’t stay “free” forever. New Mexico taxpayers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of additional dollars in Medicaid spending if they accept this money. Lastly, since when does Congress keep its promises?
First, some background: The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) tried to force the states to expand Medicaid to cover most people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. While the Supreme Court accepted a bulk of the new law, it did throw out the requirement that states expand Medicaid. Nonetheless, the federal government can bribe states with taxpayers’ own money.
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