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October 15, 2013

Message to MIRC: Medicaid Isn’t Broken

As hundreds of advocates gather today in Richmond to tell state lawmakers on the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission – the MIRC – why they should vote to expand Medicaid to cover more people, there’s no shortage of facts to help them make their case.

Among the top reasons: Medicaid is an efficient public insurance program that makes heavy use of private insurance companies to connect people with the health care they need to stay healthy and productive. While the cost of medical care overall has increased about 5 percent a year since 1990, the average cost per Medicaid recipient in Virginia has only increased by 3.5 percent annually over that same period. That’s because Virginia’s Medicaid program works to rein in medical costs.

So Medicaid is not, as some critics allege, broken – it actually functions well.

You can find more detailed analysis of this and other issues in our report Medicaid Is Far From Broken, which we released today. For example, it turns out that the vast majority of physicians are accepting new Medicaid patients – about 76 percent. That’s nearly the same as the share who are accepting new patients with private insurance or Medicare. And those with Medicaid are 25 percent more likely than people without insurance to report that their health is “good” or “excellent.”

Up to 400,000 uninsured people in Virginia stand to gain access to quality care, better health, and financial stability if the state accepts federal money that has already been allocated to expand Medicaid coverage. Many of them are working in the most important parts of our economy – like tourism, retail, trade, and construction – but the jobs they have often don’t come with health insurance or pay them enough to afford coverage on their own.

No, Medicaid isn’t broken. Far from it. And lawmakers should expand Medicaid to get hard-working Virginians the help they need.

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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