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Myths About the Medicaid Program and the People It Helps

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Myth # 9: Medicaid is unsustainable because of the demographic changes beginning in the next few years.
Facts: Growth in demand for Medicaid LTC services for older persons is likely to be slow to negative in the near term. In fact, the number of nursing home residents for whom Medicaid is the primary payer declined by 5 percent (from about 970,000 to 920,000) between 2000 and 2007, even as the total number of nursing home residents remained constant at 1.44 million.17

Significant demand for LTC services for the Boomers is 15 to 20 years in the future. The oldest Boomers will turn 65 in 2011, but the average age of both long-stay nursing home residents18 and assisted living residents19 is 85. The next groups of older people to need LTC (parents of the Boomers) will be smaller than the groups preceding them, and they have lower rates of widowhood and childlessness.

Myth # 10: Medicaid spending is out of control because undocumented immigrants are allowed to access the program.
Facts: Federal law strictly prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving federally funded services under Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, except to help hospitals pay for emergency treatment that they are federally required to provide to everyone.20 The federal government requires every state to document the citizenship of every Medicaid applicant and existing beneficiary before access to care through Medicaid.21

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