New York Advocates Work To Protect Medicaid Amid ACA Repeal

Mar 16, 2017

Expressing alarm at what they characterize as 'draconian cuts' to the Medicaid program spelled out in the proposed American Health Care Act, a broad group of organizations from across New York have come together to create a campaign to highlight the importance of Medicaid funding to ordinary people.

Activists have taken in droves to social media in an initiative they hope Congressmembers will notice, one they say will tell the personal stories of children, seniors and working families who depend on Medicaid.

Helen Schaub is Vice President for Policy and Legislation, 1199SEIU:  "We are very very concerned about the proposals in Washington which would end the federal commitment to funding Medicaid, end it as an entitlement after 50 years and turn it into what they're calling a 'per capita cap,' limiting the federal spending. The CBO has now estimated that that would slash 25 percent off of Medicaid spending nationally, between the per capita cap and the rollback of the Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of poverty."

Schuab says six million people in New York depend on Medicaid, including seniors, children and adults with disabilities, as well as working adults who don't make enough to pay for health care, and whose employers do not provide coverage. "A lot of our members are taking selfies and posting them on Twitter and Facebook, talking about why Medicaid is so important to be able to offer the care that they can provide to their clients, which are residents of nursing homes or to patients in clinics and hospitals."

Bridget Walsh, Senior Policy Analyst at Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, says the ACA and Medicaid programs have enabled many parents to obtain health coverage. "Research shows that when parents are covered, their children are more likely to be covered and have their health needs met. Children benefit form having healthier parents, and the whole family is protected from financial insecurity that exists when members are uninsured. For children, this health bill is not a budget exercise. It fundamentally threatens their access to health services. And the New York State Congressional delegation needs to take a long, hard look at the devastating impact this legislation would have on children, and on our state budget."

According to Hudson Valley Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who spoke on WAMC’s Congressional Corner Thursday, the proposed bill taking $880 billion out of Medicaid would blow a hole in the state budget. "So watch your property tax bill, if we're gonna provide for people on Medicaid, and by the way that means people who are suffering from opioid addiction, that means anybody who's got a kid on the Autism spectrum, or a disability — I mean, Medicaid is a lifeline for people who have no other resort."

The Republican health care bill to replace Obamacare is currently moving through the House. It would reduce federal support of Medicaid, giving individual states the go-ahead to make changes to the program.

The social media campaign in response is being carried out using the hashtag  #BecauseOfMedicaid