The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 13, 2013

Medicaid is health overhaul's early success story

(Continued)

Some states have used food stamp rolls to find people who might also be eligible for expanded Medicaid. Income verification forms used for food stamps require frequent recertification, so that means the program’s beneficiaries are Medicaid-ready.

“Medicaid has been around for 40 years,” said Judy Solomon, an expert on the program with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people. “In most states there’s a system for determining eligibility that kind of lives with the other public programs. We know already that there are people there who we can ask to raise their hands.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 9 million people will gain coverage through expanded Medicaid next year, with another 7 million signing up for private coverage through the online markets that are getting off to a slow start.

Medicaid pays doctors less than Medicare, and much less than private insurance, fostering an impression that having a Medicaid card is no better than being uninsured, and maybe even worse. But a recent scientific study debunked that notion, finding that having Medicaid virtually eliminates the risk of catastrophic medical expenses due to a serious accident or the sudden onset of a life-threatening illness. It also found improved mental health, though not much difference in physical conditions such as high blood pressure.

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