What Cuts to Medicaid Could Mean For You, Your Family, Your Job

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By Athena Ford, Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN)
Originally published July 1, 2011 on the PHAN Blog

Here’s something that won’t come as a surprise to you: Folks in Washington have some difficult decisions to make given the current fiscal and political climate. That, however, is not a free pass to gut Medicaid funding.

Cutting Medicaid will threaten the health and security of millions of Americans, hinder economic growth and destroy the remaining safety net available to our most vulnerable populations. If such policies could ever be justified, it certainly would not be during an economic downturn.

A Medicaid block grant, a cap on total Medicaid spending or the Obama Administration’s ‘blended rate’ would all mean the same thing: a cost-shifting onto states that Pennsylvania simply cannot afford. None of these proposals will effectively assuage the rising need for Medicaid enrollment; rather, they will push the burden onto states. States will have to cut programs and payments to providers, and that means those costs will be most felt by real people.

So who are those people? Half of all Americans report a connection to Medicaid.

The elderly, their families and you, if you plan on staying in Pennsylvania

65% of elderly Pennsylvanians in nursing homes are there thanks to Medicaid. Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care and most of us just don’t have an extra $74,800 to give to our aging mother or father. Cuts won’t just affect the elderly and their families, but they will also impact the quality of care available to all Pennsylvanians. Making cuts in payments to long-term care workers will mean fewer workers in Pennsylvania, and we are already facing a shortage of them in a state with an aging population.

People with disabilities and seniors

Medicaid also pays to help keep people in their homes or to access community-based care. In Pennsylvania, Medicaid helps 77,000 people stay out of nursing homes. Medicaid also helps people to act as caregivers to their disabled children, parent or spouse and to keep working at their job.

Children

One in three kids in Pennsylvania is enrolled in Medicaid. Half of all births in our state are paid for by Medicaid. Cuts to Medicaid could mean Pennsylvania children, pregnant women and babies will lose access to their doctor when they are sick. Pennsylvania is touted across the country for having one of the nation’s best Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP). Our commitment to ensure all children can get medical attention when they need it is one of the most honorable achievements of our Commonwealth and should remain protected.

Hospitals and people who want jobs

Medicaid is also an important economic engine supporting hospitals, physicians, medical equipment providers, pharmacists, and nursing homes. It generates jobs and incomes even during a time of economic hardship. This is especially true for our rural areas where hospitals may be the largest employer in the community. An economic downturn is the worst time to cut Medicaid spending for hospitals.

When considering changes to Medicaid funding, Congress needs to move forward with policies that will not threaten the health and economic security of Americans or shift new costs onto states.

 

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