Medicaid Expansion an Investment in the Future

As one of many Americans who respect Rep. Henry Waxman's valiant efforts to expand access to health care for poor Americans, I take strong exception to the opinion-page column "Buster of State Budgets," July 29. To be sure, state Medicaid budgets have grown rapidly and states are struggling mightily to prevent budget deficits. But to attribute all of this to federal Medicaid mandates ignores many important factors.Earlier this month, the Office of Management and Budget attributed well over 50 percent of the growth in Medicaid costs in the past decade to inflation in health care. OMB also reports that the growth in Medicaid is due to successful lawsuits brought against many states for failure to reimburse hospitals. And the author does not even mention that the nation as a whole, and many states in particular, has been in an economic recession, which lowers tax revenues and drives up unemployment and the need for p ublic assistance. Investment in health care for children - including Medicaid - is among the most cost-effective investments Congress can make. Mr. Waxman is not the only member of Congress who has advocated Medicaid reform, and he and his colleagues are fiscally responsible in making sure Medicaid covers poor children today. Chester M. Weseman, Oakland, Calif.

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