In this year’s legislative sessions, Kentucky lawmakers wrangled to find a solution for a $166.5 million hole in the Medicaid budget. Now Congress is looking at reducing the federal deficit by reducing spending on programs and services. Medicaid is likely on the chopping block, which will likely leave Kentucky legislators scrambling again. The program, which provides health insurance for low-income people and people with disabilities, covers 60 million people nationwide. In Kentucky, 800,000 people are covered by the program.
The fact that Congress is eyeing Medicaid as a target does not come as a surprise to Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. He writes, “Conservatives don’t like Medicaid on ideological grounds; it’s a government entitlement program. Providers complain about the program’s reimbursement rates. And liberals have long complained about the program’s limitations, especially the gaps in whom Medicaid covers and the large variations in coverage among states.”
But a new poll by the foundation shows only 13 percent of U.S. adults support major reductions to Medicaid, in the same neighborhood as the 8 percent who said they support major reductions to Social Security and Medicare. Nearly half of those polled said they’d prefer to see no reductions to Medicaid at all. In the same poll, 39 percent of people said the program was “very important” to them and their family. A little more than 1 in 5 people said it was not important to them at all.