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Medicaid: The Health Care Safety Net for the Nation's Poor

Testimony before the Committee on Finance The United States Senate Hearing on Welfare and Medicaid Reform

Medicaid serves as a health care safety net for 36 million of our nation's poorest and sickest people. It is vitally important to assuring that those in need of health care receive it. In a health care marketplace under intense pressure to provide care at lower cost, it is essential to assure that the most vulnerable are not excluded. As managed care plans, academic health centers, hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers respond to the demands of employers and government to provide care at lower cost, the availability of free care for those who are uninsured is increasingly jeopardized. Medicaid is the linchpin in the nation's strategy to assure access to health care for low income Americans, while using market incentives to increase the efficiency with which that care is provided.

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Medicaid: The Health Care Safety Net for the Nation's Poor, The Commonwealth Fund, June 1996