Millions of men, women, and children across the country rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. While the program was initially designed to support the elderly, it expanded through the years, like so many federal programs do. It then began to offer coverage to expectant mothers, then their children, then poor, regardless of age.
Today, Medicaid has become an integral part of healthcare for people of all ages, and even those who earn three times more than the official poverty line for income are receiving support through the Medicaid system.
Some believe the system is broken and is overburdening the federal government while others believe it’s only the start to national healthcare coverage. For those who don’t have the financial means to pay for in home care support, Medicaid often steps in to provide at least some relief and funding for short-term care.
As the GOP continues to push to replace The Affordable Care Act, some of the efforts that have failed thus far have highlight just how intertwined and ingrained the Medicaid system is, and how many people rely on it.
According to NPR, in the blog, Meet Your Friends Who Get Medicaid, written by Phil Galewitz:
“Medicaid is the elephant in the room for health care,” says Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy for the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank. He says states have become dependent on the federal funding to help fill their state budget coffers. While the poorest states, such as Mississippi, get a higher percentage of federal Medicaid dollars, that still often isn’t enough to keep up with health care costs, he says.”
There is no stopgap in place. In other words, there’s no limit to just how much a state can provide through Medicaid, and the more some states spend, the more they receive from the federal government. This means it could become more lucrative for poorer states to offer a wider range of support services through Medicaid than other funding sources.
Medicaid currently provides support for 40 percent of all children in the U.S., covers half of all births, 60 percent of nursing home services and other long-term care expenses, and over one-fourth of all mental health services and one-fifth of substance abuse programs.
The federal government spent $575 billion on Medicaid last year alone. The concern for some is what happens when the money is no longer available. If Medicaid continues to grow, and if tax revenue thins out, in a nation that carries $20 trillion in debt already, there will come a time when borrowing is no longer an option and services to those who depend on Medicaid could become more difficult to obtain.
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