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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why we can't cut Medicaid

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Medicaid is an essential health care program that provides nursing home and other long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as health coverage for low-income children and families.  What many don’t realize is that Medicaid is also a major driver of economic growth through federal funding to state economies, stimulating business activity and generating jobs.

Despite this, the recent Republican budget proposal calls for some of the largest cuts to Medicaid in the history of the program. These cuts would do nothing to address the underlying health care costs, simply shifting the burden to already stretched state governments and ultimately to you, the consumer. The Republican budget proposal calls for converting Medicaid to a block grant program that would provide considerably less federal funding to states with each passing year. Starting in 2013, funding would be cut by 5 percent, increasing to almost 33 percent in 10 years!

These cuts would have a devastating impact on Medicaid enrollees, many of whom will lose benefits or lose coverage all together. But beyond the human toll, these cuts would also have a significant and harmful effect on state economies and jobs.

To illustrate those economic consequences, Families USA has released the report, Jobs at Risk: Federal Medicaid Cuts Would Harm State Economies, which looks at the reductions in state business activity and the resulting number of jobs that would be at risk today under the Republican budget proposal.

Families USA also updated their Medicaid Calculator, which will allow you to determine the economic impact of proposed cuts to your Medicaid program. Simply choose whether you want to look at the impact of federal or state Medicaid spending cuts, click on your state, enter the proposed cut, and you'll see the projected impact in terms of lost business activity and jobs. 

Medicaid not only provides health care services for millions of the most vulnerable among us – seniors, people with disabilities and low-income children – but it also helps fuel our economy. Now is not the time to be decimating this program. Here is what you can do to ensure Medicaid is protected:

Congress is back in session, providing a perfect opportunity for you to reach out to your members and express your support for this vital program. Let them know why Medicaid is important to your community through phone calls, emails, and social media.

Congress is facing tough decisions about deficit reduction, so use this opportunity to send the message: Don’t cut Medicaid.

Medicaid cuts would cause serious harm to every state economy, across the board. At a time when our nation’s economy is at the early stages of recovery, cutting Medicaid could severely worsen troubled state economies, not to mention put millions of seniors who depend on Medicaid for their nursing home care at risk. The message is clear: Don’t cut Medicaid.