Expanding Medicaid: A Positive Move on Entitlements

There has been much speculation that Obama’s promise to make substantive change to entitlements could presages the further erosion of the already tattered safety net’s coverage. (I’ve engaged in some of this speculation myself). But while the term “entitlement reform” has long been misused by Conservatives to mean “let the poor people and the geezers make it on their own,” there’s ample room to change things for the better, as well. 

On this front, a report in Saturday’s Washington Post is encouraging. The article reports that the Democratic Congress and Obama administrtation are pondering two big changes:

The first would allow the state to sign up literally all unemployed people on Medicaid with the federal government picking up the total cost. The second would provide subsidies so that people could be covered under COBRA, the law which allows people who have been laid off the right to buy health benefits they once got through their jobs.

A major reason for proposing such regulations is that the 7.2 percent unemployment rate has added 2.6 million people to the 45 million already uninsured.

These expansions would follow the health insurance legislation now going through Congress that provides health insurance for poor and working class children. The House voted for this program and the key Senate committee has also approved it. Bush steadily opposes the plan–but that obstruction will happily soon be gone.

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