New York Times Letter from Every Child Matters

Without Health Insurance: Those Left Behind

Published: October 7, 2013

To the editor:

“Millions of Poor Are Left Uncovered by Health Law” (front page, Oct. 3) reminded me of my discovery 35 years ago — shortly after being appointed commissioner of Maine’s Health and Human Services Department — that states had wide latitude in shaping their Medicaid programs. Income eligibility, scope of services and reimbursement rates were largely left to the states to determine. Generally, the Northern-tier states opted for more generous benefits and the Southern states for fewer. Just like today.

Geography matters, with access to medical care profoundly influenced by where you live. Are citizens of Mississippi citizens of Mississippi first — or citizens of America first? Would the states even need to be involved if an efficient way could be found to treat all citizens equally from coast to coast, allowing them the same medical benefits wherever they live? Actually, for those over 65, it’s been done already and is called Medicare.


PS Too many poor children remain at risk of losing, or not receiving, health coverage as a result of the fights going on in Congress. With your help Every Child Matters has spent the last three years promoting the Affordable Care Act because of its potential to improve health outcomes for millions of children. We have also opposed reckless sequestration cuts to proven children’s programs. Please click here to contribute to our efforts to make children’s issues more visible in the upcoming 2014 election cycle.