The Politics of Medicaid: Most Americans Are Connected to the Program, Support Its Expansion, and Do Not View It as Stigmatizing

How is it that Medicaid has become a major point of contention during the intensive efforts by Republican leaders to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act? Studies of Medicaid’s policy evolution over time note its surprising resilience to retrenchment. The surprise is based on its origins and the fact that most means-tested programs in the United States are stigmatizing. However, Medicaid has expanded dramatically over the years. Today, over 60% of Americans are connected to the program. This raises a crucial question: has Medicaid pivoted closer to politics resembling a middle-class entitlement program? If so, Medicaid would no longer be stigmatized, and, regardless of political partisanship, people connected to the program would fight to protect its benefits. In a new study in the December issue of The Milbank Quarterly, researchers examined these questions.