Friday, November 2, 2012

Krugman: This Election Is Really About [Which Program?]

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Paul Krugman says that in many ways, this election is all about Medicaid. That's because if Governor Romney wins, his plan will deny health coverage for up to 45 million people who will have coverage if President Obama is reelected, and two-thirds of those people are current Medicaid recipients. 
More than 9 million Americans benefit from both Medicaid and Medicare, most of them elderly or disabled. Krugman outlines the program and its beneficiaries and points out a fact that would surprise many people -- most Medicaid recipients are in working families.
"For those who get coverage through the program," Krugman writes, "Medicaid is a much-needed form of financial aid. It is also, quite literally, a lifesaver. Mr. Romney has said that a lack of health insurance doesn’t kill people in America; oh yes, it does, and states that expand Medicaid coverage show striking drops in mortality."
Another perception that Krugman corrects is that Medicaid is poorly managed, with skyrocketing costs. Actually, Medicaid controls costs better than the rest of our health care system -- the average cost of care for adult Medicaid recipients is about 20 percent less than it would be under private insurance, and the difference for children is even larger.
Krugman concludes: "By any reasonable standard, this is a program that should be expanded, not slashed — and a major expansion of Medicaid is part of the Affordable Care Act. Why, then, are Republicans so determined to do the reverse, and kill this success story? You know the answers. Partly it’s their general hostility to anything that helps the 47 percent — those Americans whom they consider moochers who need to be taught self-reliance. Partly it’s the fact that Medicaid’s success is a reproach to their antigovernment ideology.
"The question — and it’s a question the American people will answer very soon — is whether they’ll get to indulge these prejudices at the expense of tens of millions of their fellow citizens."

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