Actually Quite Popular

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Here’s an interesting poll item—and it’s not that Zogby poll that shows Bush continuing to flop after his middling speech the other night. No, this is something else. The conventional wisdom on health care is that, while Medicare—the government-run health program for senior citizens—is wildly popular, Medicaid—the means-tested program for some low-income workers and children—was not. But that’s false: a new Kaiser poll found that 74 percent of Americans think Medicaid is a “very important” government program, and another 74 percent either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose Medicaid cuts. In fact, it’s nearly as popular as the infamous “third rails” of politics, Medicare and Social Security.

One would guess that most people were just getting Medicaid confused with Medicare—indeed, this was the clever reason why Democrats decided to name these programs the way they did—but no, it seems that most of the respondents actually knew what they were talking about, at least on a basic level. So that’s good news. Of course, Republicans in Congress don’t quite see things the same way; the recently-passed budget takes $10 billion out of the program over the next four years.

One could argue that Medicaid ought to be expanded at any rate—as MIT economist Jonathan Gruber has shown, it’s the most cost-effective way to cover those who are currently uninsured, short of a drastic health care overhaul. (Moreover, researchers have found that Medicaid’s costs aren’t rising any more rapidly than health care costs in general.) More to the point, many of the program’s eligibility rules are so complex that poor families are often deterred from joining—or else aren’t even aware that they’re eligible. It doesn’t even cover everyone it actually should be covering; fathers of families, for instance, may not be eligible whereas the kids or pregnant wife will be. And thanks to the wild income swings experienced by many Americans these days, families keep bobbing over and under the income threshold to qualify for the program, thus leading to erratic coverage. (Or the threshold line creates all sorts of weird incentives for people to sell off or hide their assets to qualify, as several news outlets have recently reported.) The ideal solutions to these problems would be some sort of national health insurance, but failing that, Medicaid is a perfectly sound program, and it’s encouraging that most Americans realize that.

WE'LL BE BLUNT:

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't find elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

WE'LL BE BLUNT

We need to start raising significantly more in donations from our online community of readers, especially from those who read Mother Jones regularly but have never decided to pitch in because you figured others always will. We also need long-time and new donors, everyone, to keep showing up for us.

In "It's Not a Crisis. This Is the New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, how brutal it is to sustain quality journalism right now, what makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there, and why support from readers is the only thing that keeps us going. Despite the challenges, we're optimistic we can increase the share of online readers who decide to donate—starting with hitting an ambitious $300,000 goal in just three weeks to make sure we can finish our fiscal year break-even in the coming months.

Please learn more about how Mother Jones works and our 47-year history of doing nonprofit journalism that you don't elsewhere—and help us do it with a donation if you can. We've already cut expenses and hitting our online goal is critical right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate