Report Stresses Medicaid’s Efficacy

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From First Focus:

New Report Reveals Medicaid’s Enormous Success
in Protecting Children & Vulnerable Populations

Washington D.C. – Today, with threats of serious budget cuts looming, a new report demonstrates the effectiveness of the Medicaid program in addressing the health and financial needs of children and other vulnerable populations.

The synthesis, entitled Medicaid Works: A Review of How Public Insurance Protects the Health and Finances of Children and Other Vulnerable Populations examines the program that, since its inception in 1965, has been serving as a lifeline to millions of our nation’s most seriously ill and impoverished citizens. Today, Medicaid is the source of coverage for more than one-third of all children and is the dominant source of long-term care financing for senior citizens in America.

Authored by Professors Leighton Ku and Christine Ferguson of the George Washington University and commissioned by First Focus, the report describes the enormous success of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in increasing health insurance coverage among children; strengthening access to medical, health, and developmental services; and safeguarding the finances of low-income families and individuals. The brief also explores the potential impact of the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution approved by the House of Representatives, which would block grant the Medicaid program. Such a proposal would end Medicaid as we know it- causing states to reduce enrollment, limit benefits, cut provider payments, and shift more costs onto the children and families who rely on public programs.

“In the midst of heated budget discussions, sometimes it is forgotten that Medicaid serves some of our neediest children, seniors, parents and people with disabilities, who have serious health problems and need access to affordable and efficient health care services,” said Dr.Leighton Ku, one of the report’s authors and a professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. “This paper helps to remind us of the many ways in which Medicaid has helped protect the health and finances of millions of needy Americans.”

Additional key findings of the report include:

·Medicaid and CHIP are essential sources of coverage for individuals with serious health conditions.Since children with Medicaid are more likely than children with private coverage to be in poorer health or have serious health conditions, Medicaid’s benefit structure is designed to meet these complex health needs.

·Medicaid and CHIP are cost-effective. While Medicaid spending has risen due to the growing number of people who are in need of coverage, Medicaid per-capita expenditures have grown much less than private health insurance premiums and more slowly than overall health care growth.

·Medicaid and CHIP are pioneers for health system improvements. The Medicaid program gives states enormous flexibility to design their programs to meet their state’s needs with a majority of funding provided by the federal government.

·Medicaid and CHIP protect the finances of families struggling during hard times. These programs intentionally protect those directly affected by the recession and those who must care for a seriously ill family member.

“The findings outlined in this report should serve as a clarion call for our nation’s policymakers to protect the Medicaid program,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus. “While there is broad agreement that we must take action on the budget deficit, it is short-sighted to cut the very programs which are critical for the health and well-being of children and other vulnerable populations, especially as families struggle with the ongoing recession. Slashing Medicaid to score budgetary savings simply does not make sense. Limiting Medicaid funds will only result in cost-shifting to families, health care providers, and localities. Our nation has made enormous strides in improving access to coverage for low-income children and other vulnerable populations. This progress should not be reversed.”

First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization committed to making children and their families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. To learn more visit www.firstfocus.net

Established in July 1997, the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services brought together three longstanding university programs in the schools of medicine, business, and education that we have since expanded substantially. Today, more than 1,100 students from nearly every U.S. state and more than 40 nations pursue undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level degrees in public health. Our student body is one of the most ethnically diverse among the nation’s private schools of public health. To learn more visit sphhs.gwumc.edu

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