A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column on the need for Medicaid reform in Missouri. I mentioned that some members of our society would rather spend money on "shiny new rims" for their autos than health insurance or house payments, etc. Well that got its share of responses. A minority newspaper in St. Louis branded me a right-wing racist who wanted to practice genocide on the low-income segment of society.
Well, despite their asinine rhetoric, I remain convinced that far too many people look for the government to provide their every need. I will retain that opinion until convinced otherwise. And believe me, no one is willing to make that argument because it's so blatantly obvious.
So let's revisit the Medicaid crisis in Missouri. Just absorb the following information and then decide for yourself. That seems simple enough.
In 1991, there were 395,000 Missourians receiving state welfare or about one in every 10 Missouri citizens. Today there are over one million Missourians on Medicaid - one in five Missourians today are on some form of state welfare.
State welfare assistance in 1991 was $1.1 billion. Today it absorbs 31 percent of our state budget and amounts to $4.1 billion.
Today we spend more on welfare (30 cents vs. 25 cents) than on all state education funding. That marks the first time in history this imbalance has occurred.
Some favor raising taxes to pay for this crisis. OK let's look at the numbers. If not one single person is added to the welfare rolls in the future, it would still take an annual tax increase of $104 for every man, woman and child in this state to pay for these programs. But here's the kicker. It would take that same amount of increase every year. So in 10 years, a family of four would be paying over $4,000 in extra state taxes to pay for these programs. Obviously that would cripple the economy of the state beyond the imagination.
Let's paint the worst case scenario. One economist predicts that without reform in the growth of Medicaid-welfare, within 10 years every single cent of tax revenue collected by the state would have to be used to fund these programs. That leaves no money for education, public safety or any other service provided by the state.
Now if those who argue we don't have a problem can counter this argument, let them speak now. But they can't respond because the numbers are clear. We have opened the door to welfare and Medicaid spending in Missouri beyond the scope of the taxpayers' ability to fund those programs. And if the legislature does not act now, we will face a crisis in Missouri that will force changes to our everyday lives.
For those upset by a "shiny new rim" comment, look around. Explore where personal responsibility can replace government dependency. Because without that honest evaluation, we'll face a crisis that will harm all segments of the population. And the result will not be pretty.