For the past few months, the super committee has been working to find agreement about how to further reduce the deficit. The goal of the bipartisan 12-member committee was to develop a plan to cut the deficit by an additional $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion (on top of an already agreed to cut of $900 billion) over the next 10 years. The super committee was allowed to consider any methods of reducing the deficit, including cutting vital programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
While CHIP may sound like a snack you would feed your kids after school, it’s actually something completely different. And frankly, it’s much better.
CHIP, also known as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, is a federally funded program that provides health coverage to low-income children whose parents make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford insurance in the private market. Many families have found themselves in this situation as the cost of health care premiums keep increasing and unemployment rates continue to soar during this recession.
Medicaid covers millions of Americans. It makes sure children can see their doctors, seniors and people with disabilities can get long-term care services, and Americans with serious health conditions can get the care they need. For many, Medicaid coverage is the difference between life and death.
This week, the New York Times ran a powerful op-ed by billionaire Warren Buffett. In the piece, Buffett implores Republican leaders to stop “coddling the mega-rich” and stop trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Instead, the billionaire insists that Congress ask the wealthy to pay their fair share.
So, what prompted Mr. Buffett to call out Republican leaders?
At the eleventh hour, Congress came up with a deal to avoid defaulting on our national debt. That deal ties raising the debt ceiling to a two-part deficit reduction plan. In the first round of the deal’s deficit reduction, which included $1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, Medicaid was spared from any cuts. However, the fight to protect Medicaid is far from over. As part of the debt agreement, a “super committee” of 12 members of Congress is charged with coming up with a plan by the end of November that will reduce the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.
In 1966, Lyndon Johnson was president. The Beatles were at the top of the charts. The Civil Rights Movement marched on, and the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War deepened.
The country was different then. The population was smaller and, on average, younger. Life expectancy was seven years shorter. And if you were old, you were more likely to be poor. Health care was less expensive, but many of today's most beneficial treatments, surgeries, and prescription drugs for a variety of diseases had not yet been developed.
Wednesday, as part of joint campaign to protect Medicaid from budget cuts, Families USA and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) co-released an NCLR report that underscored Medicaid's critical role in ensuring access to health care for Latinos.
As our leaders in Washington continue to debate how to best address the national deficit, let's take a moment to consider what is at stake when the Republican leadership pushes for deep cuts in Medicaid.
Sometimes you see a story that is so touching, so heartbreaking, that you simply have to share it. Last week, our friends at PICO sent out an email sharing the story of Marlene Kahn, an advocate from Missouri who made a touching sacrifice to defend health care rights for seniors, children, and people with disabilities.
Please read Marlene's story and get involved in the fight to protect this critically important program.
On Tuesday, hundreds of patients, families, and advocates came to D.C. from across the country in buses, planes, and trains with one message for Congress: Medicaid matters! I stood with people who had travelled hours and waited in the 100-degree heat just to get inside the Senate building for a rally to let Congress know that Medicaid not only affects the federal budget, but it also affects children, seniors, those with disabilities, and low-income families - and is often the difference between life and death.