Medicaid is one of the great pillars of the social safety net in the United States.
Created in 1965, Medicaid routinely provides health coverage to more than seventy million low-income or disabled people. During the pandemic that number grew to ninety million. Nearly half of all births are paid for via Medicaid.
The federal government absorbs most of the cost, but a portion corresponds to the fifty states of the country.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, the federal government ordered states to maintain health coverage for all Medicaid recipients, and provided them with the necessary resources, a big decision to be sure.
But the public emergency due to the COVID pandemic ends on May 11, so states are not required to maintain Medicaid coverage.
The result is catastrophic: Up to fifteen million of America’s most vulnerable people could lose their health coverage, including nearly seven million who are eligible, due to lack of resources for the program.
And guess what populations will be the most affected.
That’s right: Latinos and Black people. Nearly half of those affected will be people of color, especially the children.
Minors are the segment that has been abandoned by the program the most, especially Latino children. And we know the reasons: they come from low-income communities and might have parents that are undocumented or have low education levels.
The good news: Many of those American children and other disabled people who will go without coverage could turn to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance marketplace and get coverage at little or no cost.
The bad news: Hundreds of thousands will be left in limbo. They will not qualify for the ACA because their income is below the program’s requirements, but too high to qualify for Medicaid. Worse yet, each state has its own rules.
It is a social and public health problem with long-term social implications, since it can condemn a generation of poor people to total abandonment.
And what does our political class do? They are dedicated body and soul to the subject of the moment: the criminal charges against Donald Trump.
Although some states have begun to take steps to prevent eligible individuals from losing Medicaid coverage, this issue should be high on the radar in Washington and all fifty states. There is no excuse to prevent millions of children from falling through this huge hole in the safety net unnecessarily.