Thousands of government employees use Medicaid

A liberal lawmaker’s attempt to shame Nevada’s biggest companies just backfired spectacularly.

Last legislative session, state Sen. Yvanna Cancela sponsored a bill that required the government to publish a list of large employers with full-time employees on Medicaid.

“This will allow us to see what entities are functionally subsidized by Medicaid for health care costs,” Cancela said.

Cancela’s contention is part of a long-standing leftist complaint about big businesses. Liberals claim that government subsidizes large employers by providing food stamps and health care to their low-wage employees. The implication is that government benefits allow companies such as Walmart to pay their employees lower wages, which increases their profits.

The information mandated by Cancela’s bill was supposed to provide the proof of this nefarious scheme. Instead, the report, which was released recently, highlights some of the problems inherent in Medicaid.

In 2017, there 104,512 people who were on Medicaid and worked full-time at a company with 50 or more employees. Medicaid was originally intended to provide health coverage for the poor and indigent, so this finding looks like evidence that large employers are freeloading off the public sector. Just one problem. The report shows that 79 percent of them are eligible for the program only because of Medicaid expansion. In 2014, Nevada gave healthy adults with incomes above the poverty line Medicaid access, which was an option under Obamacare. Liberals cheered Gov. Brian Sandoval’s decision to expand, but now they’re upset these same people are enrolling in the program.

Then you get to the list of employers who have workers on Medicaid. It starts exactly as progressives might predict. Walmart had the most employees, 3,149, on Medicaid, costing taxpayers $10.5 million. The second employer, though, doesn’t fit the narrative. It’s the Clark County School District, which had 1,502 employees on the dole costing $4.8 million. The state of Nevada comes in fourth. There were 683 state workers on Medicaid, costing $1.5 million.

Other government employers had hundreds of employees on Medicaid, as well. The Nevada System of Higher Education had 379 workers using Medicaid, costing $1.2 million. The Metropolitan Police Department had 246 employees on Medicaid, costing $715,000.

Even liberal groups made the list. Eleven employees of the Culinary union, Cancela’s old employer, were on Medicaid, for a cost of $31,000. Ten employees of the Nevada State Democratic Party used Medicaid, costing $75,000. Maybe they should form a union?

This isn’t corporate greed. It’s rational behavior by individuals. Walmart offers full- and part-time employees health insurance “starting at around $26 a pay period.” The school district and the state of Nevada also offer health insurance. But it can’t complete with Medicaid. Medicaid in Nevada has no premiums, deductibles or co-payments.

If you are eligible for Medicaid, you are losing money not signing up — even if your employer offers health insurance. People making $15 an hour or more can still be eligible, too. Thanks to the Obamacare expansion, you qualify for Medicaid if your family is under 138 percent of the federal poverty line. For a family of four, the cutoff is $34,600 a year.

Leave it to Democrats both to demand that government expand Medicaid and to be upset when individuals start using it.

If you want to reduce the number of Walmart — and government — employees on Medicaid, scale back eligibility.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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