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ObamaCare forcing people into Medicaid

 

One woman’s demoralizing experience with the ObamaCare website, which her daughter documented in an article this week in The Wall Street Journal, is shining a light on how the health care law is forcing people into Medicaid even if they don’t want it.

"How has it come to this?" Nicole Hopkins wrote of her mother’s experience.

After having had her insurance canceled this fall like so many millions of Americans, her mother Charlene sought a new insurance policy on HeathCare.gov. But it gave her only one choice – Medicaid - which is the government's traditional safety net to cover the uninsured poor.

Charlene Hopkins does not see herself as poor and resents having to stoop to what she believes is a taxpayer funded hand-out, when she prides herself on a life of independence and self-sufficiency.

It is a trait that was nurtured on the Wisconsin farm where Charlene was raised by parents who accepted no handouts of their own, and found dignity in work and in helping others. "The pride is from being able to take care of yourself in all ways, and health insurance, for example, is just one of those things you do," she says.

The White House has repeatedly maintained that ObamaCare expands options, a mantra that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeated on Friday. "They'll have choices they didn't have in the past, including a range of options when it comes to levels of coverage," he said.

But those options don't apply to the millions who will be directed to Medicaid, many of them hardly impoverished.

"The system will automatically sign them up for Medicaid, even if they don't want to be on Medicaid," says James Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. "That's what's happening. So a lot of people are getting signed up for Medicaid just by virtue of what their income is."

A case in point is a Virginia family, who asked to remain anonymous, but who came to Fox News with documents that demonstrate an apparent absurdity with Medicaid selection.

The father owns a $5 million house - entirely paid for. His kids attend expensive private schools. He owns three cars, but because he has earned his fortune and has stopped working , and his wife's new start-up business has yet to produce an income stream, he is considered by the Healthcare.gov website to have no income.

The website put him on Medicaid. He protested in the website's chat area. A screen grab of the dialogue reads: "Let 60 minutes show up in front of my 5 million dollars paid for house and tell America that this guy is on {Medicade} and that the American people are paying {fro} it!"

A navigator replied, "I do understand your frustration, however I have no other options to offer."

There is also strong evidence Medicaid provides substandard care. The Manhattan Institute's Avik Roy wrote in 2012, "Medicaid patients were almost twice as likely to die as those with private insurance; their hospital stays were 42 percent longer and cost 26 percent more."

Many doctors refuse to accept Medicaid patients because payments are low. John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis told Fox News, "One woman in Boston who was in Medicaid said she had to go through a list of 20 doctors before she found one who would see her." He adds, "I asked if she was going through the Yellow Pages," and she said, 'No, I'm going through the list of doctors Medicaid gave me.'

"That tells you something about the standard of care on Medicaid," he says.

Further compounding Medicaid's problems, the CBO projects Medicaid spending will rise rapidly over the coming decade, not just because of ObamaCare, but because of the aging population, and rising costs per beneficiary, which may make Medicaid even more substandard than it is today.

Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent.

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