A national survey commissioned by Providence St. Joseph Health shows a strong majority of respondents know about and value Medicaid, which provides health insurance to low-income Americans and pays for long-term care and in-home care for elderly and disabled persons.
Medicaid was signed into law along with Medicare in 1965. Medicaid remained largely in the political shadows until its expansion became a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s goal of moving closer to universal health insurance coverage in America.
The Providence St. Joseph Health survey found 87 percent of respondents were aware of Medicaid, though some were confused about what it covers. More than half of respondents said they, a friend or a loved one were covered by Medicaid. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said Medicaid is very important to maintain broad access to health care.
Today, one in five Americans is covered by Medicaid, making it the nation’s largest health insurance plan. Medicaid covers nearly half of all babies born in America and 60 percent of elderly persons in nursing homes. Medicaid also provides health benefits to military veterans and people dealing with opioid addiction and mental health issues.
“In other words, these are our children, parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends and colleagues,” Providence St. Joseph health wrote in a blog about the survey. “To make matters even more confusing, many Americans may be covered by Medicaid and not even realize it because the program goes by different names in different states.” The Oregon Health Plan is the name for Oregon’s Medicaid program. In Washington, Medicaid is called Apple Health.
GOP congressional efforts to reduce the federal budget deficit have zeroed in on Medicaid and particularly federal funds that go to states to pay for expanding eligibility to Medicaid. The Trump administration is pushing to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients capable of working, though critics say this could penalize low-income workers with jobs that have uncertain schedules and irregular hours.
There have been Medicaid-related controversies at the state level. Oregon removed nearly 55,000 Medicaid recipients who were enrolled, but later were found ineligible under the expanded program. Oregon also determined that coordinated care organizations (CCOs) were overpaid $41 million in Medicaid benefits. Fifteen CCOs were created statewide to coordinate the delivery of services to 1 million Oregonians.
“Medicaid has served as a vital safety net since it was signed into law in 1965, along with Medicare, as part of the Social Security Act,” according to Providence St. Joseph Health. “There’s plenty of room to improve the program, and Providence St. Joseph Health is pursuing innovative ways to provide the best care in the right setting for this population. At the same time, it’s important for everyone to know what this program does and who it covers, because it affects so many of us.”
[NOTE: Providence Health & Services and Providence St. Joseph Health are long-time CFM clients.]