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Making sense – and stories – of Medicaid

Medicaid doesn't get anywhere as much attention as Medicare. That's nothing new – it's been that way pretty much since the twin programs were enacted in 1965. But reporters should pay attention to Medicaid right now, for a lot of reasons:

  • It's smack in the middle of the debt/spending/entitlement debate going on in Washington.
  • It's a lynchpin for the insurance coverage expansion starting in 2014.
  • Keep in mind, too, that the federal stimulus package gave the states a lot of extra Medicaid money – and that runs out at the end of June. States know that's coming, but it doesn't mean they like it or that they are as prepared as they might be.

If it seems like the Medicaid headlines are going in several directions at once – that's because they are. Expand, contract, reinvent, blow up, save, destroy ... What's really going on?

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