JLF’s Roy Cordato examines the credibility of the 2014 study by the Cone Health Foundation and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust that contends that Medicaid expansion in North Carolina would “create” over 40,000 jobs in the state by 2020.
The Reynolds Charitable Trust appears to be more ideologically motivated. On the philanthropy’s web site, they note that their “strategy is to achieve strategic goals that support equitable access to opportunity and effect systems change.” If nothing else, Medicaid expansion is meant to bring about “systems change.” The president of the trust is a member of Governor Roy Cooper’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, which recently sent a letter to the General Assembly “calling on them to support Medicaid Expansion.”
The fact is that neither of the funders of this study can be seen as “truth seekers” that are simply trying to provide objective analysis to the public. Both are pursuing a pro-Medicaid expansion agenda.
Furthermore, the Cone/Reynolds study is not only funded by special interests, but it’s lead author, a professor from George Washington University’s Center for Health Policy Research, describes himself as a researcher, a public policy analyst, and an “advocate” whose “career has been built around the effort to…improve access to affordable health care for vulnerable populations.” And despite the fact that the title of the study is “The Economic and Employment Costs of not Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina: A County-Level Analysis,” neither the lead author nor his three co-authors from George Washington University list degrees or any other credentials in economics. This speaks volumes given that the funders could have gone to any of the major research institutions in North Carolina, all of which have world-class economics departments, to find truly qualified economists to perform this analysis. This would be the equivalent of a study of the health effects of smoking that was paid for by the tobacco companies and authored by “researchers” who do not have degrees or expertise in medicine or biology.
In assessing the economic effects of Medicaid expansion, the people of North Carolina are presented with a study funded by two special interest advocacy groups, written by four authors with no credentials in economics, and a lead author describing himself as an “advocate.” Furthermore, the study is using an economic model designed to never show job or GDP losses. Those who use this as a basis for claiming that Medicaid expansion will create 40,000 jobs in the state may also be interested in the bridge I have for sale.