Medicaid is one of the most maligned program in America’s safety net for the poorest and weakest members of our society. However, it’s high time that the light of truth is focused on this program. For starters, Medicaid is the the most cost effective medical insurance program we have (perhaps because it is single-payer and is a successful federal-state partnership). The per enrollee cost growth in Medicaid is only 6.1 percent. Medicare’s cost growth is 6.9 percent. For-profit, private health insurance is highest at 10.6 percent, and that makes sense since a profit margin and huge executive salaries pad the price tag.
When we look at all state Medicaid programs, Virginia’s is 48th in per capita expenditures. Along with Medicare and Social Security, Medicaid has been under siege from right-wing GOPers ever since our budget woes started. The truth is there just isn’t any “fat” to cut from Medicaid in this state.
As Timothy Jost, law professor at Washington & Lee, said in a recent op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Many Americans view Medicaid as a welfare program, and welfare programs have never been popular. In fact, Medicaid is best understood as a pro-life program, and Virginians who are pro-life should be its strongest supporters.”
In 2010 18% of Virginia’s Medicaid expenditure was spent on keeping in nursing homes elderly persons who had used up all their personal financial resources. The blind and the disabled accounted for 47% of expenditures. Children in poverty used 24% of resources. Only 11% of Medicaid funds was spent on able-bodied adults. A mere 1.6% of funds was spent on administrative expenses for the program.
Of all the places where we can cut federal and state budgets, Medicaid should be last on the list. Instead, let’s eliminate some of those tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying any taxes while reaping huge profits and paying obscene salaries to top executives. It’s time we also demanded that those who are most fortunate in this society accept the obligation they have to pay a fair share to protect those who cannot protect themselves.