The Senate bill would not merely repeal a central part of Obamacare, which expanded Medicaid, but it would also undo major parts of the program that have existed for decades.
Perhaps the clearest evidence of Medicaid’s popularity came in a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which Altman runs. Kaiser asked a direction question about how people see Medicaid:
Which comes closer to your view:
— Medicaid is more similar to other health insurance programs, like Medicare, that help people pay for health care.
— Medicaid is more similar to welfare programs like food stamps that help people pay for food.
By a wide margin, 60 percent to 37 percent, people chose the first option. Democrats and independents overwhelmingly did so, while almost half of Republicans also did.
That one question is hardly the only sign of Medicaid’s popularity. By an even wider margin, people say the recent expansion of Medicaid should be protected, Kaiser found.
And 58 percent of Americans say Medicaid is important to them or their family. That’s a rational view, too, given the wide variety of people who receive care through the program. Jonathan Cohn recently profiled one of them — an inspiring student at Kenyon College.
No wonder that Republican senators have taken to using misleading descriptions for their own bill. To take one example, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia has used the phrase “transitional period” to describe the cuts, as Peter Sullivan of The Hill reported.
In truth, the cuts would represent “the largest single reduction in a social insurance program in our nation’s history,” as three health care experts recently wrote in The Times.
For those of you who prefer video, I guest-hosted Charlie Rose’s show earlier this week and talked about the Senate’s health care plans with Kliff, Peter Suderman of Reason and Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund.