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Debunking claims about Medicaid

Most of what we hear about Medicaid in the media is negative.  Politicians and pundits claim it isn’t effective or spending is out of control.  When we look closer at the data, we find that many of these claims just don’t hold true.

Satisfaction

If Medicaid did commercials, I imagine the tag line could be:  “Medicaid:  Satisfying 93% of parents since 1965.”  Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance to children whose parents would otherwise be unable to afford insurance.

Among the findings of a study released late last year by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services was that 93% of parents with a child enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP were somewhat or very satisfied with the program.  Moreover, the parent satisfaction rates were higher than those of parents whose children had private health insurance.  Sixty-six percent of parents with children in Medicaid reported that they were very satisfied, compared to only 48% of parents whose children had private health insurance.

Costs

One common statement is that Medicaid spending is “out of control”.  So, if you had to guess the percentage by which Medicaid spending grew in Nebraska between 2010 and 2011 what would you guess?  30%? 20%? 15%?

I might have made a similar guess myself, but for knowing the actual growth in Nebraska Medicaid spending (drum roll, please): Medicaid spending decreased by .2%.  That’s right folks, the program with “out of control” spending growth had a negative growth rate last year.  To give you a point of reference, food prices grew by over 4% in the last year.  What’s more, the average growth rate in Nebraska Medicaid over the last 12 years has been 4.8%.

Who benefits?

The other thing that often gets lost in talk about Medicaid is who Medicaid recipients are.  The majority of them — almost 70% in Nebraska — are children.   An additional 20% of recipients are aged, blind, or disabled and only 10% of Medicaid recipients are non-disabled or elderly adults.  This is why Medicaid is so important.  It is often the only health insurance option for our state’s poorest children and disabled adults.

As Congress returns to Washington and the state legislative session gets underway here in Nebraska, we hope that our leaders will keep these facts about Medicaid in mind as they work to address the federal budget deficit and lay the groundwork for Nebraska’s future.

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