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Thursday, June 23, 2011

America Loves Medicaid

Jen Beeson

Deputy Executive Director

We are a huge and diverse country, filled with people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. We have wildly divergent backgrounds and interests. But there are some things nearly everyone in America likes:

 Fireworks on the 4th of July. Fireworks
 Winning in the Olympics.  USA
 Cute babies.  Child
 A good Hollywood Blockbuster.  ET

But there's something else most folks like that may surprise you: Medicaid.

Medicaid is the safety-net health insurance program for about 53 million people. Seniors depend on it to help pay for nursing home care, people with disabilities rely on it to get the care they need to live independently, and low-income children and families trust it to help them see a doctor when they get sick.

A poll conducted in May by the Kaiser Family Foundation found strong support for maintaining the Medicaid program. More than half of those polled wanted NO cuts to Medicaid's dollars. By a nearly two-to-one margin, respondents said they wanted to keep the structure of Medicaid just as it is – with the federal government setting a floor for who gets covered and what benefits are available.

The Kaiser Family Foundation writes:

Support for maintaining the current program may be due at least in part to the public's personal connections to Medicaid and a strong sense of the program's importance. About half say they or a friend or family member has received Medicaid assistance at some point, and a similar share say the program is important to their family. Among those who've been covered by Medicaid, reported experiences are overwhelmingly positive...

The public's embrace of Medicaid is at odds with what Congress is busy doing. This spring, every Republican member of the House and 40 Republican Senators voted to cut Medicaid by one-third and roll back the federal government's commitment to health care for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income children. That Republican plan to slash Medicaid may not survive as is – but as Congressional leaders and the President look for consensus on how to trim the deficit, other cuts to Medicaid may be proposed.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll tells us that politicians hoping to run on "deficit reduction" by slashing Medicaid better get ready. Because they may end up running head-first—into a brick wall of overwhelming public support for the Medicaid program

*Images Courtesy of Google.