Oregon’s Children and their Families Need Medicaid.

By Regan Gray of Portland, Oregon. Regan is the Policy Director at Children First for Oregon. She currently chairs the Healthy Kids Steering Committee and Healthy Kids Learn Better Coalition.

As Oregon families struggle to regain their footing after the Great Recession, you would assume Congressional leaders know to protect crucial support systems for children and families – but no. Vital services are on the chopping block, including Medicaid. This program helps millions of children and low-income families receive health care and supports thousands of jobs. It is also a prime target for cuts, in both Presidential and Congressional proposals. Simply put, cutting health care for children and families does not reflect Oregon’s values.

Medicaid is good medicine for Oregon’s economy and for families as our state recovers from the recession. Every federal health care dollar that flows into Oregon generates jobs. From nurses and caregivers to the businesses nearby that provide medical supplies, office goods and even coffee, Medicaid supports jobs across the state. And yet, according to a report by Families USA, up to 16,260 jobs could be lost in Oregon alone if Medicaid is reduced by 33%. This is exactly the wrong time for Congress to cut a program that stimulates our economy.

Medicaid is a lifeline for Oregon’s children. This investment ensures that, when hard-working families face tough times, children can still count on getting the preventive care they need to stay healthy and see a doctor when they get sick. And because health care costs are a big driver of bankruptcies, covering kids through Medicaid helps families battered by the recession to hang on until they can get back on their feet.

In Oregon, we know that providing access to health care for families in need improves outcomes for children. Oregon was recently the site of a rigorous study that clearly verified Medicaid’s benefit to families’ health and well-being. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and Providence Health & Services found that expanding low income adults’ access to Medicaid substantially increases preventative health care use, reduces financial strain on covered individuals, and improves their self-reported health and well-being. Some people wonder whether Medicaid coverage is effective and cost-effective. The study findings make clear that it is.

The federal government faces budget problems, but taking health care away from families and children would be the wrong way to solve them. We need a balanced approach that looks for smarter ways to reduce the increasing costs of providing health care while continuing to provide the care that Oregonians need. This, in addition to common-sense revenue options, will reflect Oregon values: keeping families healthy, safe and strong.

Please join Children First for Oregon in standing up for Oregon’s most vulnerable: our kids. Ask Congress to protect our children’s health today.

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    The NY Times did an editorial this week highlighting the effectiveness of the Medicaid program in Oregon: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/opinion/18mon1.html

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    In defending Medicaid's services for needy children and the working poor, I constantly remind folks that approximately 1/3 of total Medicaid expenditures are for long term care for the elderly, most of whom are (or were) middle or upper-middle class folks until they got sick and needed skilled or nursing home care and did not have adequate assets to afford the $7000 per month cost. So Medicaid steps in and pays for "Ma Kettle" to go to a nursing home for the rest of her life, even though "Ma" and "Pa" Kettle were middle or upper middle class folks living in the suburbs until they were confronted with $7000 a month bills for care due to "Ma" developing senile dimentia.


    I think we all benefit by repeating the point that Medicaid does a lot more than just give medical coverage to "poor people".

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      A point well stated and not widely known. Yes, Medicaid is not just for the poor. Most nursing home patients are on Medicaid and come from middle class backgrounds. They end up spending down their own resources until Medicaid kicks in. Without it they would be utterly destitute and without needed medical care.

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    First off, the study did not state that Medicaid is cost-effective. To be cost-effective you have to prove that Medicaid offers better health access and outcomes at a cost that is less than alternatives. The study does not, in fact, show this at all. The study actually shows that costs per individual were 25% more in the first year.

    Second off, the Oregon Health Plan (OHP, Oregon's Medicaid, has never been cost effective. The cost of Medicaid rose 118% from 1994 to 2008 which was substantially higher than medical cost inflation. Also, the plan continually reimbursed doctors and hospitals lower than the cost of treatment leading hospitals to deny patients under OHP.

    Also, OHP was forced to disenroll about 50,000 beneficiaries in 2003. How is that a success?

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    Thank you for sharing this Regan- keeping our communities strong and healthy is crucial to the well-being of our state.

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