College Republicans Executive Board

We so often hear about proposed reforms to entitlement programs such as Medicaid, but it seems clear that there are choices we can make now that would immediately improve the program.

One of these common-sense proposals is based on the principles of the free market.

We can debate the legitimacy concepts of entitlement or deserving poor all we want, but we suggest focusing on reforms the American public can relate to and conceptualize.

The food stamp program incorporates this concept by allowing recipients to use their own cash to make up the difference in order to pay the market price.

The Medicaid program, however, does not allow such subsidization, thus pricing its users out of many health options that would reduce overall program costs and even improve participants’ health.

You may ask why users don’t do this already. The answer is that it is illegal for people on Medicaid to add to the government rate and pay the market price for care. This makes finding a doctor who will take your set government reimbursement rate the biggest problem in finding healthcare.

While there are over 1,300 walk-in clinics in our country that provide high-quality care at a reasonable price, many do not accept Medicaid patients, forcing them to visit an emergency room or hospital at a higher cost.

This pattern of increased cost is leading to a higher burden, which is placed on the taxpayer. It also erodes the concept of ‘assistance’ from the Medicaid program and shifts towards ‘reliance’ and patients’ health becomes worse and requires additional attention.

According to John Goodman, “If we just allow low-income people to obtain health care in the same way we allow them to obtain food, we would make health care immediately accessible to millions of people.”

We urge others to realize the poor can be helped in other ways by allowing choice when it comes to matters of access and quality.