Maintain money for Medicaid
Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 17:07
Despite all the talk of cutting entitlements, one program remains particularly popular among Americans.
Many Americans agree that Medicaid makes a big difference in people's lives, according to a new study cited by National Public Radio. According to the study, researchers have found that compared to those with no insurance, those with Medicaid used health care more often and had better access to it. They were also less likely to experience problems with unpaid medical bills and more likely to report being in good health.
These findings stand in stark contrast to the criticism from Republicans, who say that this program badly serves its target population, according to NPR. Although the program may not be perfect, it presents a viable alternative to many uninsured people.
Amy Finkelstein, an MIT economist and one of the study's authors, finds that the odds of having received outpatient care go up for those with Medicaid compared to those who are uninsured and paying cash, according to NPR.
"We see that the chance that you've gotten any outpatient care increases by 35 percent if you have Medicaid, relative to if you have none," she said. "The chances that they report having a regular office or clinic for their primary care increases by 70 percent. And the likelihood that they report having a particular doctor that they usually see increases by 55 percent."
These numbers clearly show that Medicaid is a program that is worth protecting.
The program provides significant benefits for seniors, low-income families and disabled people, to name a few.
One woman, Lucy Peck, recently wrote a column for NPR in which she described how Medicaid was able to help her pay for the cost of having her baby. In the column, she said she filled out an application online and received a letter within a week telling her what documentation she needed to send in. Through Medicaid's plan for pregnant women, she was ultimately covered until the end of the month that her baby was born, and her baby was covered for the first year of his life. Peck said that without Medicaid, she would not have been able to start her family.
Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) has complained that "Medicare costs are getting out of control," according to NPR. Former governor Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.) has said that Medicaid consumes about 22 percent of state budgets. Once federal contributions are subtracted, though, that number drops to about 12 percent, according to Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Once federal contributions to Medicaid are factored in, spending for Medicaid falls to No. 2 or 3 in state budgets, behind K-12 and higher education, according to NPR.
Twelve percent of state budgets seems like a reasonable amount to spend in order to be able to help out people like Peck and others who could not otherwise afford insurance. New revenues will have to be put into place in order to preserve this program. Implementing cuts to this program and Medicare over the next 10 years would only shift the cost of medicine to public hospitals, states and individuals, according to the Wall Street Journal. This would do nothing to tackle health care costs themselves, which are continuing to rise and are a long-term driver of our national debt.
Medicaid is a program that is one of the hallmarks of progressive government. Many Americans rely on the program for health insurance, and any cuts in this program could be very painful for people who are currently unemployed or underemployed. Republicans and Democrats should be focusing on increasing revenues for this program and seeking efficiencies, rather than proposing cuts. The American people will end up feeling the pain if they do not act.