A man walks into a bar. He sees an old friend sitting with a champagne glass in front of him. “What’s the celebration,” he asks.
“We just learned that my brother qualified for Medicaid and isn’t going to die,” is the answer.
And you thought that this was going to be a man walks into a bar joke. Well, this isn’t much of a joke but it sure is something to smile about. And it actually happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
For all the to-do about the Affordable Care Act website and the agony of the private market, the real story should be about Medicaid.
Millions of previously uninsured adults are being screened into Medicaid where they will get fairly good coverage with almost complete subsidization. They are, after all, poor.
The last time I saw estimates was a couple of months ago and it was something like over 4 million new Medicaid enrollees since the ACA opened its doors. What a wonderful thing.
To be sure there are problems.
Only 25 states and the District of Columbia have opted for some form of expansion. However, there are strong efforts being mounted in many other states to get in on the expansion. The recently elected Governor of Virginia is leading an effort there to expand.
The issue will be a major discussion in Maine during the coming governor’s race. And there are other states where the compulsion of need and fact is overcoming the wildly radical ideologues. Yet there will be some holdouts, propelled by anti-Obamaism and given permission by the Supreme Court, where they will decline this opportunity to care for their poorest residents.
In some places, troubling waivers have been granted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that permit states to “privatize” Medicaid and to dumb down some of its benefits.
There are some reports that referrals from the HHS enrollment system are being sent to states where there is no system to process them.
But overall the expansion is a huge success and it will pay for itself many times over, not just in the reduction of human misery, but in the long term economic benefit of reduced health care costs for everyone.
I’ll drink to that!