Americans Want Medicaid Expansion Funding Preserved, Poll Shows

March 10, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that eight in 10 Americans want to maintain the federal funding for Medicaid expansion programs. Currently, 11 million people are covered by this Medicaid funding. Support for this program crossed political party lines, the research shows.

Medicaid requires states to provide dental benefits to children enrolled in the program.

With the fate of the Affordable Care Act uncertain, a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows eight out of 10 Americans want lawmakers to keep federal funding for Medicaid expansion programs. This funding has already helped to expand Medicaid coverage to almost 11 million people.

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The results of the survey indicated strong support for keeping the Medicaid expansion funding, regardless of interviewee’s political party affiliation. Overall, 84 percent of Americans polled felt it was important for any ACA replacement legislation to continue to fund Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid requires states to provide dental benefits to children enrolled in the program, but states are free to decide whether adults will also receive benefits. Children are covered under a set of benefits called the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.

For pediatric patients, dental services provided through the Medicaid program must include:

· Maintenance of dental health

· Relief from pain and infection

· Restoration of teeth

Further, all states must develop a specific dental periodicity schedule after consulting with recognized dental organizations already involved in pediatric health care. Also, dental services provided to enrollees cannot be limited to emergency services.

Currently, each state’s Medicaid costs are matched by the federal government, up to a certain percentage. There is no current upper limit on funding a state can receive. Under the ACA, Medicaid was expanded to include individuals and families making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, but the expanded coverage was made optional for states under a 2012 ruling by the Supreme Court.

So far, 31 states and the District of Columbia have opted to expand Medicaid coverage for their citizens. It’s forecast that the federal government will pay up to $67 billion to match coverage in the states that have expanded their programs. In response, lawmakers are proposing limits to future federal funding while allowing each state much more leeway in how their programs are run.

In the poll, more than half of Americans indicated they had a personal connection to the Medicaid program, either through help they’ve received themselves, or through a family member or close friend. More than 70 million individuals are covered by Medicaid nationwide.

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