This is the first in a series intended to bring into focus the important role that Medicaid plays in the health of our patients, our organization and the larger community and what we all have to lose if proposed cuts to Medicaid are implemented.
Medicaid was enacted in 1965 along with the Medicare program as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s plan entitled, Advancing the Nation’s Health. Medicaid was designed to provide coverage for the nations’ neediest and while there have been numerous changes in approach that remains the focus today.
At the signing of the bill President Johnson paid tribute to President Harry Truman who he credited with setting the stage for the passage of these bills. He quoted President Truman, who said, “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.” He said these words in 1945, 72 years ago.
The work to create and fund a health care delivery system that aligns with the great diversity of American needs and ideologies is not a new pursuit and the stakes are higher than ever. Modern medicine offers the opportunity for long productive life for many but not for all. Medicaid is currently a primary mechanism to increase the number of individuals and families that can benefit from the advances in medicine and gain good health.
In PA today, Medicaid covers 2.6 million people, a majority are children, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Specifically, 38% of all children and 13% of all seniors in PA count on Medicaid to receive care. In addition, 33% of births are covered by Medicaid across the commonwealth.
Currently at a federal level dramatic cuts to Medicaid funding are being proposed. Billions of dollars cut from the system and states will be expected to develop solutions. Understanding who benefits and what is at stake is critical. Each day in our health center we see evidence that Medicaid is not a hand out but a hand up, allowing individuals and families to receive the care that they need so that they can more fully participate in work, school and family life.
Follow along as we break down the complexities associated with this important component of the health care reform dialogue. Know more so that you can do more, Medicaid matters to all of us.
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