Friday, November 12, 2010

Opting Out of Medicaid? Not the Answer

November 12, 2010

The New York Times today published an article highlighting the current reality faced by vulnerable populations and those who care for them in the state of Texas. In this post-election era, debates are focusing on how state and federal lawmakers will actively seek to alter federal health care reform. While a spectrum of opinions exist on methods to save state dollars, bad ideas – like states “opting out of the federal Medicaid program” – merit more discussion and review.

Anticipating the consequences for such a move is not difficult. Precipitously withdrawing from Medicaid would have a tremendously negative ripple effect throughout state economies, and to elderly Medicaid beneficiaries in particular. In today’s world, where approximately two thirds of nursing facility residents are Medicaid recipients, access to quality care would be threatened. State Medicaid rates, already low and underfunded, could not possibly support the ongoing care needs of a rapidly aging population.  As facilities would be forced to close their doors, job losses would be rampant and Americans would feel the economic crisis even more in their own communities.

This is not to say cost savings are not needed. Facilities in Texas and throughout America have invested heavily to increase capabilities to admit, treat and return home growing numbers of patients requiring intensive rehabilitative care. This is a clear benefit to both seniors as well as taxpayers. To help boost cost-efficiency, statehouses and Washington should help facilities improve their capacity to return patients home more quickly. This is a more realistic, logical and workable approach than rashly opting out of Medicaid.

What do you think? Share your comments below.

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