Haley's Medicaid figures flunk basic math test

info@islandpacket.comJuly 13, 2012 

The July 7 column by Gov. Nikki Haley and Anthony Keck decried the Obama health care plan on behalf of those allegedly advocating improved South Carolina health care.

Their statements might be convincing if their data were true. They say the plan will add 500,000 Medicaid recipients by 2014, from almost 25 percent to approximately 33 percent of state residents.

Applying grade school math to their numbers makes the current population 6,250,000 and Medicaid recipients 1,560,000.

The Census Bureau estimated the state's 2011 population at 4,679,000; Medicaid recipients averaged 684,000 per month. More people (892,000) received Medicaid sometime during the year due to the considerable flux of people (mostly children) onto and off Medicaid.

Average Medicaid populations have been remarkably stable between 2004 (656,500) and 2010 (684,000), increasing only 4 percent with the recession.

No matter how calculated, the data are off by a very large margin. Those receiving Medicaid number about 15 percent, an error of about 65 percent; cynics might say, "Not bad for government work."

Unstated was South Carolina's having a higher percentage of people unable to afford health care than 80 percent of states. Experience at Volunteers in Medicine teaches that it's extremely difficult to obtain physician care if one is on Medicaid or has Medicare and is unable to afford the deductibles.

One might hope that the governor, an accountant, is more accurate on her tax returns.

Karl Engelman

Hilton Head Island

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