Consider, for example, all the recent talk about “Medicare for all.” Sounds great, doesn’t it? So what if so-and-so said that Medicare is headed for bankruptcy just a few years down the road? The government can just print more money, right? Modern Monetary Theory says that'll work just fine.
After all, if our most revered politicians aren’t worried about it, why should we be?
Here’s the short answer: Because there are unintended consequences to every policy the government implements. And each one can have a devastating impact on certain groups of people.
We’re about to see another example here in southeastern Wisconsin, as Linden Grove Communities prepares to shut down three of its four long-term-care facilities. The reason, according to a report in Skilled Nursing News? Annual losses of $5 to $7 million in Medicaid reimbursements, exacerbated by Obama-era reimbursement changes.
“Though the shortfalls have been occurring for years,” SNN reports, “the stress accelerated in 2016 with the implementation of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model (CJR), which shifted reimbursements for common hip and knee replacements to a bundled payment model that the hospital, doctors, and post-acute providers must share.”
Bottom line: In a drive to save money, the feds made some changes that will soon shutter these three facilities that, together, have been home to scores of elderly Americans. (The head count is unclear, but a check of Medicare's nursing-home rating site indicates that Linden Grove’s closures will mean a loss of 263 certified beds here in Waukesha County.)
How many more residents have already been, or will soon be, rendered at least temporarily homeless by this scheme?
Beats me. But the above-cited report also reveals that Wisconsin nursing-home providers typically lose an average of $71 to $79 a day on each Medicaid patient. In fact, Linden Grove’s residents are just the latest victims of Medicaid shortfalls; in Wisconsin, more than 30 other skilled-nursing facilities have closed their doors for the same reason, 10 of them in 2019 alone.
Makes you wonder what else our bureaucrats have up their sleeves. If "Medicare for all" becomes a reality, will even more elderly people pay the price?
Wouldn't you think that some enterprising journalists would investigate the unintended consequences of such policies and help us become more informed voters? Granted, it’s complicated stuff, but I guarantee that there are still some supply-side economists around who could have predicted this particular outcome. And maybe they would care to comment on some of the other issues being so hotly debated today—issues that will impact how we care for our most defenseless populations in the years to come.
Is that expecting too much of modern journalists? Could be. And it’s further complicated by the fact that each state comes up with its own Medicaid reimbursements rules.
Still, if we’re concerned about who’s going to be taking care of Great Grandma in her twilight years—indeed, who’s going to be taking care of us down the road—we’d best start paying attention today. And we’d best vote for candidates who appear to have both a grasp of real-world economics and a concern for the elderly.