During the Democratic convention, former President Clinton talked about Medicaid in his speech. He said, “You won’t be laughing when I finish telling you this… [The GOP wants to] “block grant Medicaid and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. Of course, that’s going to really hurt a lot of poor kids.”
L.A. Times’s Michael Hiltzik went even further in one of his columns, reminding us that Medicaid “serves the poorest and sickest Americans, those with the fewest healthcare options…. In many cases their financial health depends on Medicaid.” But because of the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, the governors of six Southern states say they are rejecting expansion of Medicaid, a controversial part of that law.
We should not leave Medicaid, or medical care in any way, vulnerable to “State’s Rights.” Like Medicare, Medicaid should be federally controlled and dispersed.
Sadly, race is a factor, as it so often is in the South. This obviously has national implications, especially considering the recurring congressional GOP hostage-taking and out of control GOP governors and state legislatures.
The letter below is a strong argument, one we should embrace. It was written by Michael Petit, Founding President of Every Child Matters Education Fund. Previously, he served as Commissioner of Maine’s Human Services Department and was Deputy Director of the Child Welfare League of America. He was a delegate to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in Helsinki, Finland.
So today’s letter to the editor comes from the New York Times, because as always, our voices matter:
“Millions of Poor Are Left Uncovered by Health Law” (front page, Oct. 3) reminded me of my discovery 35 years ago — shortly after being appointed commissioner of Maine’s Health and Human Services Department — that states had wide latitude in shaping their Medicaid programs. Income eligibility, scope of services and reimbursement rates were largely left to the states to determine. Generally, the Northern-tier states opted for more generous benefits and the Southern states for fewer. Just like today.
Geography matters, with access to medical care profoundly influenced by where you live. Are citizens of Mississippi citizens of Mississippi first — or citizens of America first? Would the states even need to be involved if an efficient way could be found to treat all citizens equally from coast to coast, allowing them the same medical benefits wherever they live? Actually, for those over 65, it’s been done already and is called Medicare.
President, Every Child Matters
Washington, Oct. 3, 2013