Dr. Marc Siegel, an in-house doctor for Fox News, said on June 29 that Medicaid services for poor people need to be scaled back because those patients are receiving too much unneeded care (video below).
Siegel made his comments during a "Fox & Friends" segment about the Senate GOP plan, which would drastically cut Medicaid over several years, notes Media Matters.
Siegel was concerned that poor people were not being charged for their use of Medicaid, which is funded by taxes:
No disincentive for overuse. No co-pays. No deductibles. In states that have the Medicaid expansion, emergency room visits are up by nine percent. Now, hospitals like that because patients that used to be uninsured now have their Medicaid card, but they’re flocking into the ERs to get services they don’t often need.
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Siegel provided no proof that low-income people were "flocking" to emergency rooms to get unneeded services, but he did partially blame the opioid epidemic on Medicaid:
Did you know, Brian, that 15 percent of Medicaid patients are prescribed an opioid every year? Now, that's the doctor's fault for overprescribing, but Medicaid allows doctors to overprescribe. And that's one of the secret stories that we're breaking right now, is that the opioid epidemic is tied to Medicaid as an enabler. Doctors are the problem. Medicaid is enabling it.
Earlier in the segment, Siegel said that many doctors don't like Medicaid because it comes with too many "bells and whistles," an apparent reference to regulations.
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"Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Siegel what he would do to fix the Medicaid system:
I'd scale it back to basic services. What does a person really need? Look, there's a lot of disabled patients, a lot of children that are on Medicaid. There's poor people really need Medicaid. But do they need a wheelchair every two years? I don't think so.
I want to scale back the excess. And then, as Medicaid director Seema Verma has said, quite smartly, let's have premium buy-ins in the Medicaid expansion states for services beyond what you need. How about a bridge-to-jobs program?
While Siegel suggested that Medicaid recipients don't have jobs, Diane Rowland of the Kaiser Family Foundation told NPR on June 27 that many people on Medicaid do have jobs:
Well, we know that many of the people on Medicaid are already working, many of the adults who are able to go out and get a job, if they can. But we also know that those jobs often do not come with health insurance benefits. And these are very low-income people who, even when they work, could probably not even afford the coverage if their employer offered it...
Well, of the individuals who are adults on Medicaid who do not qualify on the basis of their disability status, we know that 41 percent of them are already working, and another 15 percent of them have part-time jobs. So they're just not getting health insurance benefits with their jobs.