Senior Policy Analyst
Senator Bill Cassidy’s claim that “patients covered through Medicaid often have worse outcomes than those who are covered through other forms of insurance” is just the latest example of congressional Republicans selectively using data to portray Medicaid and other safety net programs in a negative light, while downplaying much more extensive data that show otherwise.
The studies that congressional Republicans frequently cite, such as those in then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2014 report on poverty, include studies finding that Medicaid enrollees tend to be less healthy than people with other coverage. To some critics, that implies that Medicaid somehow harms beneficiaries’ health. But many studies show that Medicaid serves a sicker group of people with greater health care needs than the privately insured population to begin with.
Senator Cassidy’s statement, like the Ryan report, ignores the wide body of research showing that Medicaid provides low-income Americans with access to needed preventive services and medical care:
Similarly, Medicaid beneficiaries in one survey ranked their overall care at an average of 7.9 out of 10, and nearly half rated their coverage at a 9 or 10. Some 84 percent reported that they had access to all of their needed care in the past six months, and 83 percent reported having a usual source of care. These results are similar to the most recent surveys for people with private coverage, and much higher than those for the uninsured.
Ironically, the threat to Medicaid beneficiaries’ health comes not from Medicaid, as Senator Cassidy suggests, but from proposals to cap federal Medicaid funding, which Senator Cassidy supports. He and other congressional Republicans have repeatedly made false and misleading claims about Medicaid to justify sweeping cuts, including imposing a per capita cap. Deep cuts in federal funding would force states to contribute much more of their own funding or, far likelier, substantially cut provider payments, eligibility, and benefits, with the cuts growing each year. Broad Medicaid cuts would threaten access to and quality of care, making Senator Cassidy’s claims more a reality and threatening the health of millions of low-income people.