Tanya Z. Cuellar
Dr. Mitchell Rosenwald HSC510
Democrats, Republicans and the Medicaid Debate
Originally intended to help the poor, pregnant, and disabled, Medicaid has become widely abused by many young, healthy, able-bodied adults. With President Obamas Affordable Care Act (ACA) each state was given the option to expand Medicaid coverage to many more individuals. Like the ACA, the debate on Medicaid expansion appears to be split with Democrats supporting expansion while Republicans against expansion. The idea of healthcare for all is a noble concept, and one we as a country should strive for, but the wholesale implementation of the ACA has alienated all but those who did not previously have healthcare.
The ACA allotted money to expand Medicaid, making it available for uninsured individuals making $11,670 or less per year or families of three making $19,790 or less per year. The government agreed to pay 100% of the cost for the first three years of the program after which the individual states will then pay 10%. Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Medicaid expansion (Medicaid Income Eligibility Limits for Adults as a Percent of the Federal Poverty Level, n.d.). Obamacare changed all this by seeking to expand access to health insurance as broadly as possible without regard to an individual’s circumstances. As a result, the law encourages states to expand the eligibility for Medicaid to 138 percent of the poverty level for everybody, including healthy adults, without regard to individual circumstances. Health care is a “right for every single citizen of these United States of America,” President Obama said recently — and the goal of Obamacare is to make sure that all have the same access regardless of their choices and priorities (Evans, n.d.).
The goal of the president was, and still is very ambitious, as many Americans have not yet signed up for the ACA. The administration has even gone as far as implementing penalties for those who do not sign up before the deadline. The promises made during his pitch for the ACA have fallen short of their goals, and have many people crying foal over the situation.
The Republican view of Medicare expansion is not favorable, as most governors and legislators belonging to the GOP refused to either support or implement the program in their states. The conservatives in both the House and Senate vehemently rejected the passing of the ACA, with the vote being carried by the liberal majority. Conservatives see several traps inherent in the administration’s approach to the welfare state, what some might call an “entitlement” vision as opposed to a narrower “safety net” vision. Entitlements can too easily reduce the motivation of individuals to work and advance themselves, and they reduce the necessity of personal responsibility. This dependence on a distant, faceless, but nearly omnipotent provider degrades the character of the people and consequently weakens the fabric of society by isolating and infantilizing individuals (Evans, n.d.). The theory of dependency has already been proved with the implementation of other programs, such as welfare, and food stamps. Persons who receive these benefits often do not seek employment, or find employers who do not report their income to the Internal Revenue Service, thus allowing them to double dip. The main question that troubles conservatives is who is going to pay for all this “free” health care. The answer to that question is the American middle class and more specifically the 20-29 year-old demographic. The reason for this is that they are less likely to use or seek medical treatment, thus allowing the government to use their contribution for those who do. The middle class is the biggest tax base and is becoming more strained by government funded programs. The conservative view