Re: the recent Q&A with state Rep. Kevin Van Winkle and his answers to the question of the two most important issues the Legislature must tackle this session.
Rep. Van Winkle identifies decisions on budget priorities and points out that 25 percent of Coloradans are enrolled in Medicaid, a significant increase from 12 percent in 2008, prior to Obamacare. This surge in enrollment is directly related to Obamacare legislation that intended to expand health coverage and reduce numbers of uninsured Americans.
Medicaid is a federally legislated, state administered program providing low-income Americans with free or low-cost medical benefits. Recipients qualify if their earnings are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $33,534 for a family of four. Nearly half of Medicaid recipients are children. Forty-five percent of all Colorado births are to moms enrolled in Medicaid. Seventy-five percent of adult recipients are working.
The Colorado Health Foundation analyzed the economic benefits in Colorado of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and found it has added $3.82 billion to the state's gross domestic product, added 31,074 jobs, increased average household income by $643 and increased general fund revenue by $102 million. Other intrinsic benefits include improved health, reduction in uncompensated care expense by providers and financial relief from medical bankruptcy, the most common reason for bankruptcy filings in the U.S.
Health care is expensive. We need to do something about that, but reducing health coverage for low-income citizens it is not the answer. Funding for transportation and schools is important, but not at the expense of health and well-being. Let's hope our legislators look at all the facts before gutting basic health services to our most financially challenged citizens.