Bush Medicaid Reform Proposal Would Force States To Eliminate ‘Effective’ Programs, Opinion Piece States
President Bush's proposed Medicaid reforms would "force many states to cut back a vital and effective health insurance program at the very moment their citizens need it most," Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of The New Republic, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. With unemployment rates climbing, private health insurance becoming "increasingly unaffordable" and the proportion of employer-sponsored plans declining, there is a "new wave of struggling Americans looking to the government for help," he writes. Medicaid is "the success story that almost nobody has paid attention to," but its progress is "in jeopardy" as state governors have been "literally begging for temporary assistance" to avoid cuts in the program, he continues. Although Medicaid has "done a remarkably good job of serving a low-income, poorly educated and multicultural population," the Bush administration has proposed a plan to give states a fixed sum of Medicaid funding each year instead of matching funds that rise with enrollment, Cohn writes. According to Cohn, the president has "made it clear he wants the government out of the business of providing health insurance -- if the poor find themselves uninsured, he'd prefer the government give them tax credits to buy private policies." The tax credits proposed would be $1,000 per year for individuals, which Cohn says "would cover only a few months of decent insurance in most parts of the country." Cohn concludes that while previous administrations have used treasury money to preserve the Medicaid program, perhaps "preserving Medicaid may not be the precise goal Mr. Bush has in mind" (Cohn, New York Times, 3/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.