If President Obama—or anyone else—is expecting that Medicaid will be Obamacare’s salvation, look elsewhere.

The president said last week that “We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion.”

But even The Washington Post’s “fact checker” gave President Obama four Pinocchios for that statement (and said the enrollment numbers are iffy as well).

The Post says President Obama “seems to be falling into the same trap as other Democrats, and some reporters, by assuming that everyone in the Medicaid list is getting health insurance for the first time because of the Affordable Care Act.”

And this misconception—saving the uninsured—isn’t the only one keeping Americans from the truth about this part of Obamacare’s plan, which actually dumps millions of people into a failing program.

>>> MORE: 10 Myths About the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

Two big problems with expanding Medicaid:

  • States have to trust the federal government to keep its funding promise. Not exactly a great basis for such a costly undertaking—and states can’t afford to be left with the tab for the portion Washington was supposed to pay.
  • Medicaid is not good quality health coverage. As Heritage’s Alyene Senger notes, “Research has consistently shown that Medicaid produces worse access and health outcomes than private insurance.” That shows a program that desperately needs fixing for the people it already serves—not one that’s ready to welcome in millions more.

Medicaid was supposed to help the needy and vulnerable—those Heritage expert Edmund Haislmaier describes as having “little if any ability to improve their circumstances on their own.” Obamacare twists it to take on an entirely different group of people.

Haislmaier recently testified to Arkansas lawmakers:

In contrast, the expansion population consists of able-bodied adults, who are neither vulnerable, nor dependent, nor incapable of bettering their current circumstances. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of them do not have dependent children, meaning that while their incomes may be low, no one else depends on their income and they do not have any child-rearing responsibilities that might affect their ability to work full-time.

An analysis for the state of Utah by the Foundation for Government Accountability and the Sutherland Institute similarly warns that the Medicaid expansion “will ultimately create a two-tiered system of care, where able-bodied adults are prioritized over the truly needy.”

Needy Americans who depend on Medicaid deserve a reformed program that can serve them better. And those who are able to work, but need affordable coverage, deserve better than being dumped into this failing system.

Despite its encroaching mandates and rules, Obamacare is not the only option for states when it comes to their population in need of affordable coverage. States have the opportunity to create patient-centered solutions that would give people a much better value.

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