Don’t forget about Medicaid as the budget debate occupies center stage in Washington.
Howard Gleckman reminds us why this is so important in a chock-full-of-data blog post at Forbes. I give Gleckman a boatload of credit. He’s one of the few reporters who consistently writes about vulnerable older people – a population that gets far too little attention.
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Among the key points in his post: Two-thirds of Medicaid budgets are spent on frail older people and young people with disabilities. One-third of budgets, about $120 billion in total, goes to long-term care.
Older people covered by Medicaid are poor and, many of them, dependent and chronically ill. About 9 million people known as “dual eligibles” are covered by Medicaid and Medicare, and this is a very vulnerable population, Gleckman observes:
“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-quarter of elderly who are eligible for both programs need assistance with at least three activities of daily living (such as bathing, going to the bathroom, eating, or dressing). Many are, in other words, helpless.
“Among the 1 million dual eligibles who are the most costly Medicaid patients, nearly half are aged 80 or older, three-quarters need help with 3 or more activities of daily living, three-quarters live in institutions, and one out of every six has Alzheimer’s.”
“Ninety percent are poor or near-poor. More than half have incomes of less than $10,000.”
Many politicians discussing cuts don’t really understand how Medicaid works or who it covers, Gleckman notes. You can be sure this is as true of your state legislators as it is of those in Congress. Continue reading