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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Report Confirms that Medicaid Matters for Americans

The August deadline to negotiate a deficit reduction package is on the horizon. As many already know, the discourse seems to have boiled down to this weighing of Medicaid costs versus the justness of taxing the wealthiest Americans. In an attempt to break the legislative stalemate, President Obama offered to cut billions in Medicaid spending if Republican leaders would make concessions on the tax issue. It wasn’t a shocking offer, Medicaid has long been the victim of budget cuts, and this year is no different. However, a well timed, landmark study on the actual impact of Medicaid has made the detriment of this decision more clear than ever.

Just last week researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Bureau of Economic Research and Providence Health & Services released the results of the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, which unequivocally demonstrates the value of the Medicaid program. This landmark study is the first ever randomized-control trial of Medicaid—the gold standard of scientific research. The Experiment concludes that expanding access to Medicaid “substantially increases health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals and improves their self-reported health and wellbeing.”

We cannot overlook the relevance of this study in the current political and economic context. In Illinois alone, 1.8 million children, adults, elderly, and people with disabilities are covered by this safety net program. That is 14% of the population. Cutting Medicaid means that thousands of people will be forced to go without basic medical assistance. Even worse, it means those who must access care could face financial ruin in the face of ballooning healthcare costs and much of the risk will fall back on working class Americans.

Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition has always stood in support of Medicaid beneficiaries and this study supports what we have been saying for a long time--MEDICAID MATTERS! We must seize the excellent timing of this report and become even more adamant in our demands that legislators take a responsible approach to the deficit that does not fall on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans. Take action today and help us to make the message clear--Medicaid matters!

Kathy Waligora
Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition
(Originally posted here.)

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