If government is going to force taxpayers to finance medical care for low-income people, replacing Medicaid with the equivalent of food stamps would be a large improvement. John Goodman explains:
When we expand a public insurance plan for low-income patients, we are spending billions of dollars in a way that doesn’t increase their access to care. At the same time, we forbid the enrollees to do the one thing that would expand access to care.
Contrast this foolishness with the Food Stamp program. Low-income shoppers can enter any supermarket in America and buy almost anything the market has to offer by adding cash to the “voucher” the government gives them. They can buy everything you and I can buy because they pay the same price you and I pay. But we absolutely forbid them to do the same thing in the medical marketplace.
This is why Tom Saving and I recently proposed to get Medicaid and CHIP out of the business of dictating prices and replace that activity with a health stamp program, fashioned after the food stamp (SNAP) program. Enrollees would get stamps, depending on their health condition, and they would be free to add their own money and pay any price for any service the medical marketplace has to offer. In this way, low-income families on Medicaid would be empowered patients who could compete for health care resources on a level playing field with other patients, at least for small dollar health purchases, which would include almost all primary care.
Read the while post: Why Can’t We Buy Health Care the Way We Buy Food?