Cut Medicaid and You Cut Health Care for the Elderly

Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan have been adamant that their Medicare proposals won’t affect people over 55. That may be true. But their Medicaid proposals sure will. A lot of health care for the elderly comes from Medicaid. We call those people “dual-eligibles”, because they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Some dual-eligible are younger disabled people, but about two-thirds are 65 or older. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports:

Dual eligibles as a share of total Medicaid enrollees ranged from a low of 10 percent in Arizona and Utah to a high of 26 percent in Maine, due to demographic differences and policy preferences across the states. Similarly, spending on dual eligibles as a percentage of total Medicaid spending ranged from a low of 18 percent in Arizona to a high of 59 percent in North Dakota.

Lots of Medicaid money goes to the elderly. Cut Medicaid, and you likely cut some of that. Here’s more:

One quarter (25%) of Medicaid spending for dual eligibles went toward Medicare premiums and cost-sharing for Medicare services in 2008. Five percent of spending for duals was for acute care services not covered by Medicare (e.g., dental, vision, and hearing services). Another 1 percent of Medicaid dual eligible spending was for prescription drugs, a percentage that has fallen significantly since coverage for nearly all prescribed drugs for duals was shifted from Medicaid to Medicare Part D in 2006. The remaining 69% of Medicaid spending was for long-term care services, which are generally not covered by Medicare or private insurance.

That Medicaid money is going to Medicare premiums! It’s also going to actual care. Cut Medicaid, and you likely cut some of that.

It’s about time someone pointed that out. The health care proposals of Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan will absolutely impact some elderly people way earlier than a decade. Unless they’ve changed their minds again.

[Cross-posted at The Incidental Economist]