Economic stimulus legislation moving through Congress would allow states to open Medicaid to people who are unemployed (regardless of income), people with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and all recipients of food stamps.
Is this a good idea? And, in the long term, in which direction should Washington be steering Medicaid?
Critics claim that this sets a bad precedent for expanding this public program beyond the poor, while others claim that Medicaid is the best way to temporarily help people affected by the shaky economy, and that those with money will pursue other options.
Under the bill, states could cover unemployed people under Medicaid, with the federal government picking up the tab, for those who lost their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2010. States could make this coverage available to unemployed and uninsured individuals in one or more of the following categories:
• Individuals (and dependents) who receive unemployment insurance benefits or who have exhausted unemployment insurance benefits;
• Those with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program;
• Those receiving food stamps who are not otherwise eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP.
-- Marilyn Werber Serafini, NationalJournal.com