Kaiser Foundation: Medicaid cuts opposed by the majority

Unemployment continues to ravage working-class communities throughout the country. One result of this scourge is that hundreds of thousands of people have been added to the Medicaid rolls. To listen to the U.S. Congress and all the radio and TV pundits, the problem with Medicaid is its burgeoning cost — not the human suffering it represents.

Instead, Democrats and Republicans alike have been arguing about how much to cut Medicaid. This year, 43 states have made fresh cuts to Medicaid. For next year, 45 governors proposed making new cuts, including proposals to cut payments to health care providers, cutting benefits to Medicaid recipients, and increasing the amount that Medicaid recipients must pay out of their own pocket.

Such cuts don’t sit well with working people. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released its monthly tracking report, showing that half of people in the United States reject cuts in Medicaid. According to a news release from the KFF, “The May Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that 60 percent of people say they would prefer to keep Medicaid as it is, with the federal government guaranteeing coverage and setting minimum standards for benefits and eligibility. …Only 13 percent of Americans say they would support major reductions in Medicaid spending as part of Congress’ efforts to reduce the deficit, while 3 in 10 would support minor reductions and 53 percent want to see no reductions in Medicaid spending at all.”

“If you watch the debate about the deficit and entitlements, you would think that almost everyone has a problem with the Medicaid program and wants to change it, or cut it — or both,” said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman. “The big surprise in this month’s tracking poll is that one group who does not want to cut Medicaid is the American people.”

According to the KFF poll, about half of the U.S. population (51%) report some personal connection to Medicaid, including having received health coverage, long-term care, or Medicare premium assistance from Medicaid themselves (20%), or having a friend or family member who has gotten this type of assistance (31%).

While a national, single-payer health plan would provide the best health coverage for working people and their families, Medicaid, clearly, provides critical safety-net protection. With millions of unemployed joining the ranks of the uninsured, such protection is a life-and-death question. For this reason, support for Medicaid runs high, with nearly half of those polled in the KFF study (49%) saying that Medicaid is “very” or “somewhat” important for them and their family. Eight in ten adults (81%) said that if they were uninsured, needed health care, and qualified for Medicaid, they would enroll in the program.

Health care is a right, not a privilege! No cuts to Medicaid or Medicare! Let’s build a national health plan, with universal coverage.

Saturday, June 11th, 2011 at 15:26