As the summer continues to progress and the battle over the federal budget is reaching a fevered pitch, the future of Medicaid is hanging in the balance. Decision-makers are considering policy options that would cut anywhere from $100 billion to trillions of dollars from Medicaid in the name of deficit reduction. Some of the proponents of these policy proposals believe that these cuts are fair without asking millionaires and billionaires to pay anything extra in taxes.
Beyond the rhetorical battles are the real people whose lives would be affected if these devastating cuts occur. For example, what happens to the 75 year old woman in a nursing home — and her family — if cuts are made to Medicaid benefits? What happens to the 45 year old woman with physical and mental disabilities who needs a home health aide, medical equipment and therapy in order to remain in her community and avoid having to go to an institutionalized setting? What happens to the mother trying to hold down two jobs who needs basic preventive care for herself and medicine for her child with asthma?
These are the women behind the following statistics.
- Most federal and state Medicaid dollars support services for elderly individuals and people with disabilities (more than 2/3 of Medicaid dollars in 2007); 69 percent of elderly individuals who receive Medicaid are women and 53 percent are people living with disabilities.
- If you try to protect services for elderly individuals and people with disabilities, you will have to decimate services for the remaining 1/3 of Medicaid beneficiaries, most of whom are women and children. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the rest of adults who receive Medicaid are women.
Medicaid provides comprehensive services to women throughout their lifetime. From prenatal care, preventive services like pap tests and mammograms, family planning services including contraceptive supplies and services, home health aides, nursing home care and long-term care services. Whether you cut services or eligibility, you will hurt women.
Please make your voices heard and speak out. If not for you and your family, do it for the women described above, as well as their families. Let decision-makers know that behind the numbers are real people who will be hurt by massive program cuts.
This blog is part of the MomsRising blog-a-thon on the importance of Medicaid.