Medicaid Covers All That? It’s The Backstop Of America’s Ailing Health System

When disabled children need to get to doctors’ appointments — either across town or hundreds of miles away — Medicaid pays for their transportation.

When middle-class older Americans deplete their savings to pay for costly nursing home care, Medicaid offers coverage.

The United States has become a Medicaid nation.

Although it started as a plan to cover only the poor, Medicaid now touches tens of millions of Americans who live above the poverty line. The program serves as a backstop for America’s scattershot health care system, and as Republicans learned this year in their relentless battle to replace the Affordable Care Act, efforts to drastically change that can spur a backlash.

The latest Republican proposal — by Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) — was defeated in part because it would scrap the health law’s Medicaid expansion and reduce federal funding for Medicaid over time. While Republicans in Congress are certain to continue to push for cuts, the fact is that Republican and Democratic governors as well as rich and poor Americans rely on the program.

– KHN

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