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President Obama is notoriously known for once saying he had fought to ensure that health care was a right for every single American instead of a privilege. In 1965, Medicaid was signed into law as a program to grant low-income families affordable health care. Fifty-three years later, this program now supports “nearly a quarter” of all Americans and has become a major social welfare program committed to giving individuals living in poverty equal health care. Although there would be an increase in taxes for a small percentage of Americans, due to its ability to improve the standard of living for low-income individuals, the federal government of the United States should increase eligibility for Medicaid.
Medicaid plays a critical role in bridging the health care gap put by racial inequalities. People of color continue to be disproportionately at greater risk of being uninsured due to their societal disadvantages and being statistically more likely to be on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Of all racial minorities in the United States, “Latinos and Native Americans are at greatest risk of being uninsured”. Without the proper insurance that covers hospital visits and without having the economy to afford to pay for any sort of health care, millions are forced to forego crucial medicine that could potentially save their lives. Additionally, due to the high concentration of low-income African-Americans living in southern states that voted to not expand Medicaid, there is a “40 percent gap” between black and white mortality rates with African-Americans dying much earlier and more frequently than the average White American. Without the 2010 expansion that was enacted from the Affordable Care Act, millions of minorities are considered too high above the poverty level to where they do not qualify for Medicaid, yet are too poor to afford private health insurance. An expansion of Medicaid would be an essential step to government-promoted equity as it would give desperately needed healthcare to its countries’ most financially vulnerable individuals, which disproportionately happen to be people of color.
Medicaid increases the number of Americans who can afford life-saving medical treatment which decreases mortality rates. Overall, states that voted to expand Medicaid to more low-income individuals “saw a marked decline in deaths of residents ages 20 to 64” when compared to states who did not choose to expand the program. Access to equal health care for Americans living in poverty has been proven to save lives due to Medicaid making preventable care and life saving medicine more accessible for people who would have otherwise never received this sort of medical treatments. Similarly, it is expected to see “one life saved for every 176 uninsured Americans added to the program”, which is approximately 400, 000 people who would have otherwise not survived, being saved by the services Medicaid has to offer. Having access to preventative care gives low-income individuals a chance at staying healthy in the long term which would mean never requiring medical treatment, and never running the risk of a premature death. Increasing eligibility for Medicaid ensures that everyone has the opportunity to health care to save them from dying due to preventable diseases.
Although some could argue that the “3. 8-per-cent tax” put on households with incomes greater than $250, 000 a year to finance Medicaid is draining money from a group of people that don’t receive any benefits from the program, in reality taking a small portion of money from the wealthy not only saves the lives of fellow Americans living in poverty, but also it ultimately benefits the middle and upper class. Medicaid provides billions of dollars in revenue that feeds back to establishments including hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. This money is then used as a base to expand those establishments into providing more efficient services and creating more jobs. In Colorado alone, “30, 000 jobs were created due to an expansion of Medicaid” as institutions began requiring more workers. Due to an expansion of Medicaid, wealthy business owners who own these establishments would greatly profit from the constant revenue coming in from the program. Additionally, the increase in jobs directly affected by the wealth given from Medicaid would affect the middle class who would be the most likely to accept these positions. While the income tax would have an effect on rich households, it would ultimately be beneficial for low, middle, and high individuals alike.
Ultimately, expanding Medicaid nationwide is the most effective path to improving the standard of living for low-income individuals. Americans should not be giving up everything they own and ending up bankrupt just to afford medicine needed to survive, nor should they be dying from not being able to afford private health insurance. Acquiring life-saving medical treatment should be considered a right, instead of a privilege for every American, no matter their economic status.
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