Medicaid is seeing greater numbers qualify for their programs, so in a way, we will be moving toward a larger government-run option regardless of what Congress and the President are able to pass later this month. Medicaid is hardly a solution for middle-class people who lived within their means and were able to save money over the course of their now-interrupted working lives. Both Republicans and Democrats represent themselves as catering to middle-class savers, so it would seem that fixing existing programs, including Medicaid, could help government officials improve their standing in polls of the "American people." (As it turns out, according to http://www.rasmussenreports.com, 78 percent of us feel we should be able to purchase the same coverage as our elected officials.)
Let me explain why Medicaid doesn't help savers. For the most part, Medicaid is a state-run program, and I've learned that in one state a family can have no more than 30,000 dollars in savings to qualify regardless of their current income (including retirement savings, IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, etc.). This means that the hypothetical person who loses his or her job must buy COBRA or another private policy (read "commercial catastrophic coverage") in order to have any health insurance until they've depleted their savings. 30,000 American dollars is certainly a nice a chunk of change, but in the larger picture, when rent plus groceries plus utilities plus health insurance plus everything else is included we see that even a single person with no smoking or pre-existing conditions in a shared-living arrangment (who of course only ate on Tuesday nights at the Sonic 50-cent burger window) could move through that rather quickly.
So not much more than my expectation is that over 50 million Americans will be seen as without health insurance for 2009 unless they all qualify for medicaid because there is so little cash left in their bank accounts.
Does doing nothing in fact lead us to the single-payer solution? Congressman Joe Wilson, did I see you raise your hand?