Democrats Pick A Frontrunner In Republican LG Race

Yesterday, Pete Snyder, candidate for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor, released a new video on “Obama’s irresponsible plan to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare” and coupled it with an oped at Bearing Drift:

Simply put, Medicaid expansion is a ticking time bomb for hard working Virginia taxpayers. The conservative Heritage Foundation released a study yesterday showing that, under this plan, the costs to Virginia taxpayers would skyrocket by over $900 million [edited] in less than ten years, once the “free” federal money dries up.

Snyder’s also levels criticism on Medicaid’s inefficiencies and this is where he gets into trouble with Democrats – he’s citing facts:

As it stands, Medicaid’s immense price includes a very real and tragic human cost: all too often it actually harms the very people it is meant to help. But don’t take my word for it — a study by the University of Virginia pulls back the curtain on Medicaid’s tragically bad outcomes, including “increased risk of adjusted mortality,” or as one report summarizes, “surgical patients on Medicaid are 13% more likely to die than those with no insurance at all, and 97% more likely to die than those with private insurance.”

Cue the outrage.

ThinkProgress came out first, focusing on the ad daring not to offer footnoted citations for Snyder’s claims and saying that, hey, surgical patients on Medicaid being at a 13% greater risk of death compared to being uninsured is insignificant, “fractionally higher” in their words.

But it didn’t stop there. Snyder’s message was having an impact and Aneesh Chopra, arguably the frontrunner in the campaign for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor, saw an opening and took a swing. And a miss. Taking Pete Snyder’s quote out of context, Chopra hoped to gin up some outrage that fell into the typical trap of confusing health insurance with actual health care.

Avik Roy of National Review Online covered the UVA study Snyder cites back in 2010 but also dug up more facts on Medicaid care discrepancies:

· A University of Pennsylvania study published in Cancer found that, in patients undergoing surgery for colon cancer, the mortality rate was 2.8% for Medicaid patients, 2.2% for uninsured patients, and 0.9% for those with private insurance. The rate of surgical complications was highest for Medicaid at 26.7%, as compared to 24.5% for the uninsured and 21.2% for the privately insured.

· A Columbia-Cornell study in the Journal of Vascular Surgery examined outcomes for vascular disease. Patients with clogged blood vessels in their legs or clogged carotid arteries (the arteries of the neck that feed the brain) fared worse on Medicaid than did the uninsured; Medicaid patients outperformed the uninsured if they had abdominal aortic aneurysms.

· A study of Florida patients published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that Medicaid patients were 6% more likely to have late-stage prostate cancer at diagnosis (instead of earlier-stage, more treatable disease) than the uninsured; 31% more likely to have late-state breast cancer; and 81% more likely to have late-stage melanoma. Medicaid patients did outperform the uninsured on late-stage colon cancer (11% less likely to have late-stage cancer.

As Roy points out:

The detailed study results will help us address these questions, but the answer almost certainly begins with access to care. Medicaid’s extreme underpayment of doctors and hospitals leads fewer and fewer health-care providers to offer their services to Medicaid beneficiaries.

The system is broken. And instead of reforming Medicaid, just as Governor Bob McDonnell has requested, much to Democrats chagrin, the solution proposed by Democrats and Obamacare is to simply put more people into substandard medical coverage and ignore the outcomes of second-class care.

Pete Snyder is right to call out this shame and ThinkProgress and Aneesh Chopra know it.

And they also seem to know who they think they’re going to have to deal with in November.