Entitlements more money

By Glenn Mollette

Washington D.C.

Our country is more than $22 trillion in debt and growing. Reducing our spending is never easy especially for our government. We have a lot of obligations from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Defense, Veterans, Infrastructure and more.

There aren't that many places to cut spending in our nation's budget. Social Security eats up about 23 percent of our budget. Our government is supposed to start sending me a check every month in just over a year. After paying into it since I was 18 years old, I would like to collect it.

Medicare accounts for 15 percent of our federal budget. I just got my card in the mail so I'm not voting to reduce Medicare benefits. I know what medical bills can do to anyone financially. Over 65 percent of the bankruptcies in America take place over medical issues.

Medicaid is the third largest mandatory spending program in the federal budget. Medicaid requires almost 10 percent of our budget. We can't reduce it much if any because one out of five Americans are dependent on Medicaid.

There is a good chance that almost any American could end up on Medicaid so don't be smug. You could end up with a medical challenge that could put you in a nursing home with all kinds of required specialized care that could financially wipe you out and you would have no choice but to go on Medicaid. I hope this never happens to you, but it happens to millions of Americans.

The Medicaidprogram is jointly funded by the federal governmentand the states. The federal governmentpays states for a specified percentage of program expenditures, called the FederalMedical Assistance Percentage.

Federal spending on Medicaid projected for 2019 is $406 billion, almost one-tenth of the $4.7 trillion federalbudget.

Money is supplemented by the states, so total spending on Medicaidservices will be about $593 billion for this year.

Under the Affordable Care Act the federal government paid 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion coverage from 2014 to 2016. The federal share dropped to 95 percent in 2017, 94 percent in 2018, and 93 percent in 2019 and will settle at 90 percent in 2020 and each year thereafter.

This year, the averageannual premiums for an employer-sponsored insurance plan for an individual were slightly more than $6,000. Just two years ago, Medicaid spent an averageof $6,641 per person covered.

Medicaid is a jointly funded federal-state health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.

Medicaidand CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program) cover nearly 70 million people, or again about one in five peoplein the country.

I am never an advocate for more taxes, but our entitlements require big financing and the money has to come from some place. The money will not come just from the one percent of America's wealthy. All of us will pay more.n

Mollette is a nationally read author of columns, inspirational devotionals and books.