Medicaid: More than Just Numbers

It’s no secret that our country is in the middle of a tough dialogue about the budget and spending. President Obama knows that the American people and ordinary families should be at the heart of these discussions. 

In recent days, White House officials have been meeting with organizations like The Arc, MomsRising, and Family Voices to discuss the important role Medicaid plays in the lives of millions of Americans. They heard from parents of children with developmental, intellectual and physical  disabilities who told us about Medicaid providing the services and supports so their children could thrive in the community when no one had given them a chance. They heard from mothers who would go without health care but for Medicaid and families where Medicaid has helped change and save lives.

The families we met and the stories they told put a human face on the discussions going on in Washington. From Family Voices we met Laura, a passionate young girl and aspiring author from Indiana.  Through MomsRising we met Gail from Utah who would not be here today without the support Medicaid provided as she dealt with breast cancer . And through The Arc we met the Keaton family of West Virginia and their 18-month-old son Graysen, who has DiGeorge Syndrome.

We know that Medicaid helps provide services so that people with disabilities can be sisters, and brothers, daughters and sons, friends, peers, and classmates -- not patients. And yesterday, Sherry Glied from HHS wrote about a landmark new study that outlines the tremendous benefits that come from having Medicaid coverage. That’s why President Obama has proposed a package of reforms that save money and strengthen this critical program without shifting the cost of care to our seniors or people with disabilities. 

Medicaid can be more efficient and the President’s plan helps streamline the program to save money and provide better care. But the President’s plan stands in sharp contrast to the Republican plan that transforms Medicaid into a dramatically underfunded block grant. Under the Republican plan, states would get one-third less for Medicaid by 2021, potentially leaving 15 million people without coverage, including seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, children and pregnant women.

The families my colleagues met with traveled many miles to share their stories with us and as the discussion about our fiscal future continues, we will be doing all we can to fight for them and the millions of Americans who depend on Medicaid each and every day.

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
 

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