Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
News Opinion Readers Respond

Obamacare and the poor

Kudos to The Sun's Andrea Walker and state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Deputy Secretary Chuck Milligan for explaining the details of Medicaid expansion, a truly significant component of "Obamacare" set to take effect Jan. 1 ("Understanding Medicaid expansion under health reform," Sept. 6).

Since the creation of Medicaid in 1965, poor single adults have never been eligible based upon income alone. Many states — including Maryland — ran fully state-funded programs providing equivalent benefits for this population, but these were almost all scaled back or eliminated in the lean budgetary years of the early 1990s.

As a result, many vulnerable people were ineligible for insurance for decades, no matter their level of poverty. Without access to care, they tended to get poorer, sicker and costlier to treat by larger health care system.

It may surprise many to learn that nationally and locally, only a small minority of folks experiencing homelessness — generally only families and those that can prove a disability — currently are eligible for Medicaid.

That will change on Jan. 1, when the large majority will be eligible for coverage in states that have embraced the opportunity to expand benefits to all adults with incomes up to 138 percent of federal poverty line — about half the country.

Maryland has taken strong steps to make the most of this reform for vulnerable people. Increased access to primary and preventive care, along with coverage for specialty care and hospitalization, will provide individuals and communities important resources to prevent and end homelessness.

To be sure, we have much work ahead of us to create the kind of cost-effective system that brings everyone in and leaves nobody out. But extending comprehensive insurance to most extremely low-income people through Medicaid expansion is an excellent place to start.

Kevin Lindamood, Baltimore

The writer is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • An incomplete report on payments to doctors from drug companies [Letter]

    It actually doesn't do much good to head up an article about payments to doctors by telling readers that a doctor invented a great new device and the company sent him a check for royalties ("Payments to doctors from drug companies, device makers revealed," Oct. 4).

  • Obamacare: Beyond the website
    Obamacare: Beyond the website

    While it's too early to declare the new Maryland health insurance exchange website a complete success, its largely smooth launch this week offers the prospect that this open enrollment period will be focused less on the technology and more on ensuring Marylanders are getting access to high...

  • Health exchange still a hassle
    Health exchange still a hassle

    I found The Sun's editorial, "Beyond the website" (Nov. 23), about how well the new-and-improved Maryland Health Connection had launched to be ironic and not in a good way. Perhaps you should have looked beyond the health insurance website itself to see if the system really had been improved...

  • Getting help with health exchange
    Getting help with health exchange

    We couldn't agree more with the importance of consumers getting in-person assistance when they purchase health insurance ("Obamacare: Beyond the website," Nov. 21). That's why the Maryland Women's Coalition for Health Care Reform named Maryland's connector entities with their navigators and...

  • Health site has political overtones
    Health site has political overtones

    The Maryland Health Connection website is certainly much improved from its original debut, but why has it been politicized ("With Obamacare, health insurance leads to better health," Nov. 18)? The prominent heading on the exchange is "Change is here" echoing President Barack Obama's campaign...

  • Gruber and his liberal lies
    Gruber and his liberal lies

    Nice coverage of the Jonathan Gruber hearing which amounted to, I think, about 60 words ("Obamacare adviser sorry for comments," Dec. 10). He appeared to spend most of the time denying, lying and obfuscating — true traits of liberals these days.

  • Why has The Sun neglected the Jonathan Gruber scandal?
    Why has The Sun neglected the Jonathan Gruber scandal?

    Your systematic neglect of the horrendous Jonathan Gruber/Obamacare scandal is undoubtedly attributable to your partisan bias ("Gruber flap reopens not-so-old wounds," Dec. 1).

  • Give yourself the gift of quality health care
    Give yourself the gift of quality health care

    It's December and quickly creeping toward the next holiday season. We have had Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. How about taking a step back and giving a gift to yourself?

Comments
Loading