In New York, it looks like the Democrats’ dream of “Medicare for All” is rapidly becoming a reality. Or at least “Medicaid for All.”
Since COVID struck, enrollment in the government-funded health-insurance program has shot up by 1.5 million people, as The Post reported this week. And the numbers were soaring even before that: By January 2020, 6.1 million of the state’s 19.8 million residents were enrolled; now, health officials estimate 7.6 million people will be getting benefits by March. That’s nearly 40 percent of the state’s population.
Add in other state health programs, from Child Health Plus to the Essential Plan, and it comes to 8.4 million New Yorkers, or 42 percent of the population, getting aid, the Empire Center reports.
And this is supposed to be a backstop program for just the poorest New Yorkers.
Gotham enrolls an even higher share of its residents in Medicaid: more than 4 million people, or nearly half of the city’s 8.8 million people.
New York has long been a national leader, both in terms of the number of enrollees and how much it spends on them — around $75 billion last year, including federal, state and local funds. And as the Empire Center also notes, more New Yorkers above the poverty line qualify for Medicaid than those under it. Even as New York’s poverty rate declined, its Medicaid rolls grew by 1.4 million from 2010 to 2019.
Clearly, the state needs to better screen applicants. But it also needs to rethink how this program “for the poor” works. Because soon, the state won’t be able to afford anything else but this.