Utah's health care debate took an unexpected turn at the State Capitol, where a lawmaker who is also a doctor argued that access to health care can be a bad thing. Representative Mike Kennedy, a Republican from Alpine, made the comments in a Health Reform Task Force meeting, in reaction to a story from another doctor.... "Sometimes access actually can mean harm," said Representative Mike Kennedy, a family physician.
As of a week ago, about half of the nation's states had embraced Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, while the other half seemed to be motivated almost entirely out of partisan spite. But in recent days, there's been a burst of unexpected activity on this issue.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) struck a deal with the Obama administration that will allow Medicaid expansion to cover another half-million low-income Americans in the Keystone State. A day later, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) said he expects to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Ruby-red Wyoming generally resists any voluntary federal program, but it, too, is starting to come around on Medicaid expansion. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), a fierce "Obamacare" critic, recently did the same.
And even Utah is moving forward with its Medicaid-expansion plans, though not without an unintentionally amusing debate.
I've followed this debate closely for quite a while, and I have to admit, this is the first time I've seen an elected official argue -- out loud and on purpose -- that medical care may be bad for people. But in this case, a Utah state Republican and physician tried to defeat Medicaid expansion by sincerely making the case that hospitals can make Americans sicker.
"Sometimes access to health care can be damaging and dangerous," the GOP lawmaker said. "And it's a perspective for the [Legislative] body to consider is that, I've heard from National Institutes of Health and otherwise that we're killing up to a million, a million and a half people every year in our hospitals. And it's access to hospitals that's killing those people."
Ridiculous arguments notwithstanding, there is a larger trend here that's hard to overlook.
Justin Green, writing in the conservative Washington Examiner, noted over the weekend that the Republican fight against Medicaid expansion may soon be "over."
"[T]he trend is quite clear: Red states are gradually accepting Obamacare, and no states are reversing their decisions," Green said.
To date, 10 Republican governors have embraced this ACA policy, but that total is slowly growing as the arithmetic becomes increasingly undeniable.