Consider, for example, the ongoing chatter 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 seeing the tip of the iceberg here in Wisconsin over the last decade, as nursing home after nursing home has closed its doors. The primary reason? Annual losses of $5 to $7 million in Medicaid reimbursements, exacerbated by Obama-era reimbursement changes.
“Though the shortfalls have been occurring for years,” Skilled Nursing News reported a few years back, “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 continue to shutter skilled-nursing facilities that have been home to scores of elderly Americans.
How many residents have already been, or will soon be, rendered at least temporarily homeless by this scheme?
Beats me. But it does make you wonder what else our bureaucrats have up their sleeves. If "Medicare for all" ever 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.