But what are we doing about the root CAUSES of Medicaid eligibility?

Ben mentioned Medicaid in a post about Wal-Mart, and I had mixed feelings. I do believe that Wal-Mart should be providing affordable health insurance for its workers, but with the number of people in this state and country who are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but not enrolled… I’m almost grateful that they’re doing outreach!

But here’s what I’ve been thinking over the past few days.

In February 2004, 1 in 9 Texans relied on Medicaid for either health insurance or long-term care (source: Medicaid In Perspective by HHSC).

I’m as concerned about health care cost inflation as the next girl, but aren’t we missing a more fundamental problem here?

Why the heck are 1 in 9 Texans so poor that they have to depend on Medicaid for help?! The Federal Poverty Line (FPL) for a family of four was $18,850 in 2004. Children ages 6-18 are only covered if their family income is under that line. While the income limits are more generous for younger children, it only goes as high as 185% of the FPL ($34,872) for newborns up to their first birthday.

It boggles my mind that getting people to an economic status where they don’t qualify for Medicaid isn’t the focus of the discussion. I know we believe we lost the War on Poverty, but COME ON, people. Get a grip on the real issue here. Move these families out of poverty, cut almost 25% of your Medicaid budget, since that’s the proportion of Medicaid costs attributed to children. Some of those kids would move into CHIP with a rise in family income, but hey, we get a better federal match rate for that.

Can’t we have positive, inspiring goals anymore?