As the 51st anniversary of Medicaid approaches on July 30, we are reminded of the benefits this vital program has provided to millions of Americans. Doctors and medical students know Medicaid is a lifeline for many. Yet, it remains among one of the most hotly debated healthcare programs.
The Affordable Care Act has added 20 million Americans to the nation’s insurance rolls and lowered the percentage of uninsured to a historic low using the twin pillars of state/federal marketplaces and Medicaid expansion in 31 states plus the District of Columbia. However, governors and state legislative leaders in 19 states across the country have continued to refuse to expand Medicaid to millions in the coverage gap.
During this election season and at a time when the disadvantaged are at risk of being swept aside, we must take a personal stand and do something tangible. Together, let us make it clear to everyone that the future of Medicaid is strong when we all do our part.
Our patients who are eligible for Medicaid deserve care. Most are fully employed in jobs that, despite being low in pay, are essential for the safe, smooth and secure functioning of our society. They are the indispensable caretakers, often unpaid, of children, the disabled, and the frail elderly. They are students who will soon find public health insurance unnecessary as they move into jobs with full benefits. And some are our future colleagues, medical students who need some temporary assistance in their first years of training.
So please, whether you are self-employed, employed, a medical student, or already caring for this economically vulnerable population, take the pledge that will help strengthen this essential public health insurance program so that it is available to many generations to come.
Together, we will continue to:
- work to expand Medicaid to non-expansion states;
- encourage states who have established Medicaid reimbursement rates at parity with Medicare rates to maintain those rates and push to establish Medicaid/Medicare parity in all states;
- support innovations in Medicaid that promote access, quality, and high-value care and will ensure the program has long-term sustainability;
- advocate for these vital programs as our nation decides the priorities for the future.
Thank you for all you do for patients!
R. Scott Poppen, MD MPA
Scott is a retired internist, Utah State Director, and member of the Doctors for America Board of Directors.