Congressman Markwayne Mullin

Representing the 2nd District of Oklahoma
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Making Medicaid Sustainable in the Long-Term

Mar 11, 2016
Mullin' It Over Column
by Congressman Markwayne Mullin

One of the things I love most about Oklahomans is the love and support we show for one another. When our neighbor needs help with his yard, we’re there with the lawnmower. When our friend needs someone to watch their kids, our doors are open.

No matter what, Oklahomans always want to take care of people who are in need. And we should, but when it comes to government assistance programs, we need to make sure we are serving individuals who truly qualify for the programs.

Today there’s a problem with Medicaid. As it is currently set up, the program is unsustainable. But I’m personally working in Congress to make the changes needed to ensure this program exists in the future.

I’m part of a special task force within my committee that is taking a deep look at the program and finding ways to make it stronger.

Right now the Medicaid program makes up about 15 percent of all of the money spent on health care in the United States.  The federal government is expected to spend about $344 billion on Medicaid this year alone.  

The cost of Medicaid is only growing. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows us that Medicaid spending increased by 14 percent in 2014 and 16 percent in 2015. And the CBO predicts it will increase by another 11 percent in 2016. In large part, this increase is due to Obamacare’s massive expansion of an already broken Medicaid program.

My committee has held several hearings on the Medicaid program. We’ve looked at the ways states are spending their money on the program and our process for auditing the payments the program is making to doctors.  We’ve also looked at how we determined whether someone is eligible for Medicaid and how we can make sure individuals aren’t getting duplicative health coverage from the government.

The Medicaid program serves 71 million Americans today. There is no doubt that some of the most vulnerable in our society, like people living with disabilities and families without access to health care, are rightly covered by the program. But we need to make sure that a program this big is only providing care to people who are truly qualified for the benefits. Making enrollment standards too easy and giving money away with no questions asked will never fix Medicaid.

The bottom line is that Medicaid is a very complex program, and fixing it won’t be an easy job. But I’m not in Congress because it’s an easy job. I’m in Congress, because I want to make sure the government is working for you.  

This is what I am doing as part of the Energy and Commerce Committee and as a member of the committee’s Medicaid Task Force.