One other point: As much as the economic recovery package in the House would help the state budget crisis, the health system, and our economy, there are many elements that can also be viewed as a first round for comprehensive health reform.
The most exciting proposal that acts as a “down payment” on health reform is the provision that will allow states to expand Medicaid, temporarily, for unemployed adults. Many people think our public coverage programs cover the poor, but the truth is that they only cover some of the poor. Medicaid largely covers low-income children and parents, and the “aged, blind, and disabled.” But there are many adults who don’t have a child at home, who are not eligible for any public program-even if they are under the poverty level, which is $10,400/year for an individual, $14,000 for a couple. Sometimes called “medically indigent adults,” they are left to whatever their county decides to provide in terms of a safety-net service.
The stimulus would authorize such a Medicaid expansion only temporarily. But many of the reform plans now circulating in Washington, spanning the ideological spectrum, envision childless low-income adults getting coverage through Medicaid anyway. So by enrolling them in Medicaid now, the stimulus would basically jump-start the reform process–making the long-term job of getting everybody covered that much easier.
That’s a snippet from a post of mine at the The Treatment, the new blog by Jonathan Cohn and other writers at The New Republic magazine. I’ll be contributing there when I can, if nothing else to merit the kind introduction Jonathan has given me. Regardless of my posts, it’s worth reading, especially this year with so many opportunities at the federal level…