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Better Medicaid: It obviously is needed

May 07. 2013 5:26PM

How good is Medicaid at improving the most basic health outcomes for the poor? Not very good, a new study of Oregon's Medicaid system shows. And that should give everyone pause about expanding this deeply flawed program.

In a nutshell, the Oregon experiment followed thousands of people who enrolled in Medicaid in 2008, and thousands who chose not to enroll. Results recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that Medicaid enrollees consumed a lot more health care services, but showed no better outcomes on the three objective health measures studied: blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. They were less depressed, which makes sense, given that they had basic health insurance.

The nation spends about $450 billion a year on Medicaid, and Obamacare is set to spend $750 billion more over the next decade by expanding it. That was a foolish move when Obamcare was passed, and it is even more obviously foolish now.

If the goal is to keep the poor from getting poorer, or to help them pay for basic health insurance, there are far better ways to do both. The current method is deeply wasteful. We could help the poor for less and get better outcomes. But say that and you will be labeled anti-poor. Such is politics today.

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