Oregon, Medicaid, and Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias on the Oregon Medicaid lottery, circa 2011:

At any rate, a new rigorous study from Oregon confirms that Medicaid does, indeed, save lives:

Matthew Yglesias on the Oregon Medicaid lottery, circa 2013:

What the RCT study showed is that when a low-income family gets Medicaid, this improves their financial condition a lot. But does it make them healthier? That’s a lot less clear.

The Medicaid study hasn’t changed the political views of anyone I know, and it shouldn’t change yours either. … If you like the idea of taxing the rich to help the poor (I sure do), the study shows that Medicaid helps [financially, but not medically].

I enjoy Yglesias’ writing and he is typically thoughtful and un-dogmatic.  But this is pure dogma.  It’s inconceivable that in 2011, when he was trumpeting that Medicaid saved lives, Yglesias would have said, “Well, but also it’s totally okay if it doesn’t in fact save any lives (or even improve them), but does serve as a wealth transfer.”

Perhaps the most important dogma to the modern Democratic coalition is that government-subsidized healthcare is essential.  I’m not here to say that they’re wrong: our healthcare is pretty screwed up, and there are compelling reasons to believe that European nations do it better overall.  But I am here to say that their views are inextricably tied up in group affiliation and party-line loyalty, to the point where despite the fact that they do have some good evidence, you can never tell which argument is evidence-based, and which is dogmatic.

Which plays into why I try to avoid being part of either the Democratic or Republican coalitions.

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