During a long rant against government-subsidized health insurance today on C-Span’s Washington Journal, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) claimed that being uninsured is better than being on Medicaid — the federal government program that provides health care for low-income Americans:
CASSIDY: Medicaid, for your viewers who may not know this, is a combined federal-state program that insures, so to speak, the low-income folk. And it’s actually worse than the uninsured! So Medicaid, Medicaid patients in some cases have worse outcomes than patients who have no insurance whatsoever. Now, why that is is not understood, but what is known is there is a problem with the quality of the patients on Medicaid – the quality of health care for the patients on Medicaid receive.
Cassidy didn’t offer any specific examples of how Medicaid patients have worse outcomes than those who are uninsured. But it’s important to note that the uninsured population has a lot of young people who don’t consume health care, while the Medicaid population generally has more risk factors and is in need of coverage. Families USA has pointed out that Medicaid “is cost-effective” when compared to private health insurance. And there’s the obvious financial benefit of having government subsidized insurance versus private insurance, let alone no insurance at all:
Federal law limits how much people in Medicaid can be charged for their health care. For low-income people, this prevents costs from being a barrier to obtaining needed health care. Low-income adults with private health insurance pay more than six times as much on out-of-pocket costs than do low-income adults with Medicaid.
The recession has forced more Americans to rely on Medicaid than ever before. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported last September that Medicaid enrollment had jumped to 48 million, while USA Today’s analysis a month prior put the number at more than 50 million. “Virtually every Medicaid director in the country would say that their current enrollment is the highest on record,” said one industry expert.
Also, Americans like Medicaid. A 2005 Kaiser poll found that 74 percent consider Medicaid very important and most would oppose cuts to the program. A Zogby poll last month found that 65 percent of likely voters said “they oppose policies that resulted in cuts to Medicaid funding for nursing home care for America’s poor and elderly.”