It looks as if the law of unintended consequences has caught up with Obamacare. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson presents intriguing evidence that the Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare may be contributing to the rise in opioid abuse. According to a federal Health and Human Services analysis requested by the Senator, overdose deaths per million residents rose twice as fast in the 29 Medicaid expansion states—those that increased eligibility to 138% from 100% of the poverty line—than in the 21 non-expansion states between 2013 and 2015.
There were also marked disparities between neighboring states based on whether they opted into ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Deaths increased twice as much in New Hampshire (108%) and Maryland (44%)—expansion states—than in Maine (55%) and Virginia (22%). Drug fatalities shot up by 41% in Ohio while climbing 3% in non-expansion Wisconsin.
Using open source court files and news stories, Mr. Johnson’s office also found 261 cases of people who were recently prosecuted for exploiting Medicaid cards to obtain opioids. Last month an Army veteran was convicted of selling oxycodone pills with forged prescriptions. His co-conspirator paid for the pills with a Medicaid card.
A police detective in Wisconsin told Mr. Johnson’s office that 240 oxycodone pills can be purchased with a Medicaid card for a $1 co-pay and resold for $4,000 on the street. A single Vicodin pill can fetch $50.
In a letter to the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services, Mr. Johnson last month observed that “it appears that the program has created a perverse incentive for people to use opioids, sell them for large profits and stay hooked.” He’s asked the Inspector General to investigate Medicaid’s controls to prevent such abuses.
There's more at the link. (The article may disappear behind a paywall.)
Expanding Medicaid seemed like a good idea at the time, to help control runaway medical costs; but it hasn't been very successful in that. Now, with this problem on top of cost inflation, one wonders what the powers that be will do to solve the imbroglio. Karl Denninger offered a simple solution in two steps, but it would involve an immediate recession as prices realigned and stabilized, so it's not likely to be adopted. However, anything else will probably lead to the same result, further down the road.
It's a mess. I honestly don't see any solution to the US healthcare crisis in the near term . . . and all of us are going to get caught up in it in due course.