It’s time for our nation’s health care leaders to stand up against those who denigrate the nation’s invaluable Medicaid program. Such talk is wrong-headed, usually untrue, and counter-productive to the provision of care. Medicaid expansion is a key component of the Affordable Care Act, and congressional efforts against the Affordable Care Act would badly undermine health care for the poor and low-income Americans. Although these efforts in Washington have failed, offensive attitudes toward Medicaid persist.

This persistent criticism by some is ironic, as 21 states – including Massachusetts –-have or will soon implement a new health care delivery model: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). ACOs are collaboratives of health care providers and insurers who are entirely focused on improving the overall health and well-being of Medicaid patients and, as a result, by extension, reducing costs of providing their care. This mandate was written into the Affordable Care Act so that we – finally — have a health care approach that acknowledges the realities of life below the poverty line.