Avik Roy: Medicaid, America’s Worst Health-Care Program

In July 2010, at National Review Online’s Critical Condition blog, I wrote about a University of Virginia study, published in Annals of Surgery, finding that surgical patients on Medicaid endured a 97 percent higher likelihood of in-hospital death than patients with private insurance, and a 13 percent greater chance of death than those with no insurance at all. I noted several other clinical studies that showed similar results. Little did I know that a national firestorm would ensue.

Not everyone shared my concern about Medicaid’s poor health outcomes. A number of scholars on the left expended more effort trying to debunk the UVA study, and thedozens of others that support it, than addressing Medicaid’s many flaws. Others, such asThe New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, conceded that “for certain populations and particularly in certain states, [Medicaid is] unambiguously inferior to private insurance,” all the while describing my “novel and brash” criticisms (and those of others) as a “conservative assault on Medicaid.”

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