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One reason Republican senators have had a hard time getting support for their health care bill is that it dramatically cuts Medicaid. Medicaid covers health care for the poor and disabled. Republicans argue it's not quality care. But a new survey from Harvard's Chan School of Public Health shows that the people who actually use Medicaid are overwhelmingly happy with it. NPR's Alison Kodjak reports.
ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: To hear Republicans in Congress tell it, Medicaid is broken. It's too expensive. It's too complicated. Here's House Speaker Paul Ryan in March arguing the federal government has made the program too complex.
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PAUL RYAN: More and more doctors just don't take Medicaid. I mean what good is your coverage if you can't get a doctor? And that is a huge growing problem with Medicaid.
KODJAK: Medicaid patients tell a different story. The overwhelming majority in the survey said they've been able to get all the care they need. Only 3 percent said they couldn't get care because of a long wait list or because they couldn't find a doctor who would take their insurance. Michael Barnett is the lead author of the study.
MICHAEL BARNETT: Part of what motivated this study is that there is a lot of rhetoric and what we think is misinformation around, what does Medicaid do? How effective is it? And how satisfied are enrollees with their coverage?
KODJAK: The study is based on a huge trove of data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency that runs Medicaid.
BARNETT: This is a survey that really provides the most reliable large-scale information we have to date - over 270,000 enrollees. And they're largely satisfied.
KODJAK: Almost half the people rated the program a 9 or 10, with 10 being, quote, "the best health care possible."
BARNETT: If nearly half of people are giving it nearly a perfect score, that's pretty good, right? There aren't a lot of services that we get, you know, for anything - government or not - where we'd give it a perfect score.
KODJAK: The results counter some of the rhetoric from Republicans in Congress who want to change how Medicaid is administered and paid for. The health care bill that passed the House and the one being considered in the Senate would turn the administration and regulation of Medicaid completely over to the states. And the Congressional Budget Office says it would also reduce Medicaid spending by about $800 billion over the next 10 years. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.
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