DAY OF ACTION URGES LAWMAKERS TO CARE MORE ABOUT SENIORS, PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, AND CAREGIVERS THAN TAX BREAKS FOR MILLIONAIRES
What: Tele-media conference
When: Wednesday, August 9 at 10:00 a.m.
Where: Call 641-715-0861, access code is 926618#
Charlottesville, Va.—As members of Congress return home for August recess, Virginia Organizing is holding a media tele-conference on Wednesday, August 9, at 10 a.m. featuring seniors and advocates urging representatives to reject renewed efforts to dramatically cut Medicaid and Medicare in the coming federal budget. The event is part of a national day of action jointly sponsored by Caring Across Generations (CAG) and Health Care for America Now (HCAN).
Media are invited to join the call to have a discussion with leaders in the movement to protect and expand Medicaid about the harm these cuts would do to Virginia’s communities. Speakers will include Jill Hanken of the Virginia Poverty Law Center and several other experienced health care reform activists.
“This budget would cause destructive revenue losses for hospitals and providers in our state,” says Charlottesville’s Dell Erwin, who has been advocating for universal health care for the last eight years.
Sixty percent of people in the U.S. who receive vital care and services through Medicaid are 50 years of age and older or people with disabilities. In 2017, Medicaid provides coverage for 27.7 million adults, 10 million people with disabilities, and 5.8 million seniors.
Ninety percent of Americans prefer to receive care and live at home as long as possible versus going to an institution like a nursing home. Medicaid is the largest payer of home care and is the primary way people can access and afford home care; it is also the largest provider of long-term care in any setting. Gutting Medicaid will force many more seniors and people with disabilities into institutional care because providing residential nursing is mandatory for states but offering home based care is not. Yet seniors prefer home based care and it is more efficient.
“‘Aging in place’ is the best option for most of us,” says Bruce Smith, a retired teacher in Prince William County. “It’s an option we will choose while we can. People who don’t or no longer can drive a car need a ride to and from church, shopping or senior centers, often the only places they have to socialize. Funding for transportation is often a forgotten cost of aging for many people. Feeling trapped in one’s own home (or room in a senior living facility) is a terrible thing.”
Virginia Organizing leaders are particularly concerned about Medicaid’s importance for low-wage workers, including caregivers. More than one-third of home care workers rely on public health care coverage for their own care, most often through Medicaid or Medicare. Demand for long-term care fueled by an aging population has also driven an increase in Medicaid-funded home care jobs. The home care workforce alone more than doubled in size over the past 10 years, from 700,000 in 2005 to over 1.4 million in 2015, driven in large part by government-funded programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
“My primary interest in Medicaid expansion is to provide access for veterans and for returning citizens,” said Dr. Mack Bonner of Virginia Beach. “As a veteran I am concerned for the thousands of Virginia veterans who do not qualify for VA care and are without other insurance. Many of them would have access under Medicaid expansion. As a retired Regional Medical Director for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, I know of the difficulty many returning citizens have in obtaining health care. Failure to provide health care is therefore a public safety and public health issue as well as being a personal health problem for those concerned.”
Virginia Organizing is a non-partisan statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.