Failure to expand Medicaid is a genuine job killer

Job killer. Job killer. Job killer!

That's been one of the chants of the Great Recession era--a metaphorical sticker to slap on any initiative the least bit politically sensitive and scare the locals into line.

It might be a bullet train, or a minor tax increase, but instead of debating it on its actual merits it gets portrayed as something that would so wound the great job creators at whose altar we must worship that they would be forced to sacrifice the livelihoods of those fortunate enough to have one.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) used the phrase in reference to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as recently as February, the Washington Post reported. His opposition to the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility is one of the reasons a startling 9 percent of his constituents are being denied health insurance coverage. If they had a regular source of insurance, they would require the ongoing services of physicians, nurses, phlebotomists, technicians, social workers and others--all pretty well-paid positions.

Many of those healthcare professionals have found themselves out of work in rural Belhaven, North Carolina, where Pungo Hospital recently closed its doors due to financial distress. It was the biggest employer in town by far--so big that the town may have to raise taxes on everyone else in order to close the revenue gap caused by Pungo's closure.

Pungo is one of 14 rural hospitals that have closed over the past year. Most are in Southern states, virtually all of which turned down hundreds of billions of federal dollars that would have preserved existing jobs and created new ones. Instead, they have taken the opposite route. That action, along with the cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, is doing in the smaller rural facilities.

The White House's Council of Economic Advisors has also chimed in on this issue. Its conclusion: the 24 states passing on Medicaid expansion forfeited $88 billion in federal funds through the end of next year. They also passed on creating 84,000 new jobs this year, 184,000 jobs next year and 379,000 jobs through 2017. And they missed the chance of generating an additional $66 billion in economic activity through 2017 as well.

Not expanding Medicaid has been a genuine, quantifiable job killer. And the people responsible have the blood of their labors splashed all over their hands. -Ron(@FierceHealth