NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Trapped in the Medicaid Ghetto

September 10, 2010

According to a Congressional oversight report released by the Senate's two serving physicians, Dr. Tom Coburn and Dr. John Barrasso, the president's choice to expand Medicaid services will have a disproportionate impact on the health of the poor -- and as a side effect it will trap a significant percentage of African Americans in a ghetto of poor medical care, says Benjamin Domenech, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, managing editor of Health Care News and editor of the New Ledger.

  • Academic studies have repeatedly confirmed Medicaid patients experience poorer health outcomes and higher infant mortality rates.
  • In July a new report from the University of Virginia found surgical patients on Medicaid actually fare worse than the uninsured: they are 13 percent more likely to die than those who have no insurance and 97 percent more likely to die than patients with private insurance.

The system is already fraught with problems, including delays in access to care that multiply costs and in some cases cause perfectly avoidable deaths.  But the racial divide that this policy precipitates is particularly disgusting.

  • A much higher proportion of the African American population is in the program than any other major ethnic group -- more than 30 percent, according to the most recent statistics.
  • Several supporters of the legislation cited racial disparities in health care, but did not bother to examine which health care system is inflicting this damage on minorities.
  • Instead they passed a law mandating Americans below 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible only for Medicaid.

Low-income families and minorities don't deserve to be forced into a government program that denies them access to 40 percent of the nation's physicians and has higher infant mortality rates and a guaranteed pattern of atrocious outcomes, says Domenech.

Source:  Benjamin Domenech, "Trapped in the Medicaid Ghetto," Washington Examiner, September 7, 2010.


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