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For $460 Billion a Year, Medicaid Darn Well Better Save Lives

JANET337 Wrote: Jul 29, 2012 11:20 AM
Much of Medicaid spending actually goes for nursing home care. Some of these patients are truly needy and have no assets or resources at all. Others, through effective and legal planning, have preserved their assets to pass down to their families. Done right, they can then qualify for Medicaid to pay for their nursing home care. Even without estate planning, the primary residence is not considered an asset that can be liquidated to pay for the care, even after the owner (and their spouse) have passed. In effect, because we have a system that allows asset preservation, taxpayers are subsidizing the care of nursing home patients so that their survivors can recieve an inheritance. Yes, I know... there are exceptions to this.

A study in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine finds that when three states expanded their Medicaid programs, mortality rates fell 6 percent relative to four neighboring states. The study found evidence that the mortality gains were concentrated in poorer counties — i.e., where people were most likely to become eligible for Medicaid.

As always, the study comes with caveats. The results “may not be generalizable to other states,” may have been driven by unobservable confounding factors, et cetera. Speaking only for myself, I hope these results are accurate. I hope Medicaid does save lives. That program spends nearly half a...

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