Barney Frank: Medicaid Expansion Is the 'Single Best Part' of ObamaCare
FARROW: "Going back to you Congressman Frank, you were in office both Democratic pushes on health care, including that from Senator Kennedy and also as I said, Mitt Romney's rollout of that Massachusetts health care plan. Without getting into technical details, what would you like to see happen next in the national conversation about health care?"
FRANK: "Well, that's a very important point. Because I count it as a great advantage we did this on the national level and not the state level. You know, the single best part of that health care bill, from my standpoint, was the expansion of Medicaid. You talked earlier about the difference in the lifespans. Well the different in the lifespan in America is a very different one within America according to people's income and socio-economic standing. Wealthy Americans do very well. Part of the reason for our lower level is the excess of inequality we have and the problems that causes for people at lower levels. So -- and that's something that couldn't have been done at the state level. So the expansion of Medicaid -- and I've been appalled at some states where they've rejected federal assistance to help people just above the poverty level get into Medicaid. So that's one of the ones that I would -- I would approve on. You know, we try to make that mandatory, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the overall bill but threw out the mandatory part. I would like to change the law so that that was mandatory. And you know, yes, I care about Massachusetts, but I care about poor people in many of those states who are terribly deprived and who, for partisan reasons, aren't getting any assistance. So I would like to mandate -- and we're talking about 90 percent federal funding -- "
ROY: "If I can jump in there, one thing I would say, it's far from clear that medicaid actually solves the problem of life expectancy being lowered for poor people. All of the literature, the most famous being this Oregon Medicaid experience that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that Medicaid had no impact on measured health outcomes relative to being uninsured. So there is a problem with inequalities, or discrepancies of low-income people, but it's not clear it is addressing the problem."
FRANK: "I disagree with that."
FARROW: "I don't want to get into dueling studies, but there is literature that suggest that Medicaid does offer -- "
FRANK: "There's always literature on a variety of things. But the fact is there are -- and I know this from people I've talked to, there are clearly people who don't get as much medical care as they should. The fact there's no immediate impact within a few years on life expectancy doesn't resolve that issue. And there is a quality of life question. And the notion that people who are just above the poverty line that they are better off running a charity medicine and the kindness of strangers, rather than having Medicaid, I disagree with. I know there are people -- they are people, conservatives who don't like Medicaid, who would like to cut it way back. I think it is clear that lower income people are better off with than without it. And I know that was true in the district that I represented. So again, the fact that it does the no have an immediate increase in long he longevity within a five or seven year period does not make Medicaid not a good thing. I mean, would you rather not have Medicaid extended to lower-income people?"