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.
Last week a lot of people were standing up for health care reform. There were marchers in the streets of Washington, D.C. trying to get equal access to insurance. There were congressional hearings on the subject, and 24 health care survivors spoke of their healthcare tragedies. One of those wonderful people was Marcelas. He is 11 years old.
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.
Everyone has those moments in their lives-the ones you tell your children and grandchildren about. They always start off the same, and my story is no different.
I will never forget where I was when health care reform finally passed and became law.
Even though she'd had a heart attack and several "mini-strokes" and couldn't walk, my mother-in-law was able to live in her own apartment until she died at age 90. That was important to her. She was able to do that because she had round-the-clock care provided through an agency that contracted with her state's Medicaid program.
By LINDA GUZMAN
An earlier version of this column appeared in The (Durham, N.C.) Herald-Sun 07.17.11 - 08:23 pm.
This summer, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with my 17-year-old son, Javi. I've been there many times before, but this was his first visit.