Shared by John Pare, NFB
Saving Medicaid is critical to America’s blind
I know you have already been busy contacting your representatives and senators about our legislative issues, but I want to add one more item to the list of topics you should discuss with them. I am sure you are aware of the debate that is currently taking place regarding our nation’s healthcare system. The House has voted on its proposal, called the American Health Care Act, but the Senate has not yet done so. A vote was scheduled for this week, but it was announced yesterday afternoon that it would be postponed. A vote on the Senate healthcare proposal, the Better Care Reconciliation act, will take place following the July 4 legislative recess.
The healthcare proposals currently being considered would devastate the Medicaid program, upon which thousands of blind people rely to meet their healthcare needs. Since we now have the opportunity to speak to our senators while they are in their districts over the July 4 recess, prior to them voting on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, we should urge them to vote against any cuts to Medicaid and to protect the blind Americans who depend on this program.
President Riccobono wrote an excellent op-ed about this issue, which was published in The Hill recently. At press time, the details of the Better Care Reconciliation Act were not known, so the piece only specifically mentions the House’s American Healthcare Act and the budget that has been proposed by the White House. However, we now know that the Medicaid cuts proposed in the Senate bill are every bit as bad as those proposed in the House bill and the administration’s proposed budget. Please read President Riccobono’s op-ed for a thorough explanation of the devastating impact these proposed cuts would have. It is pasted below for your convenience. Then call or email your senators and tell them to vote against Medicaid cuts.
The best way to contact your member of Congress is to call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for the office in question. Emailing your member of Congress is also a good idea. If you do so, please copy JPare@nfb.org.
Saving Medicaid is critical to America’s blind
Mark A. Riccobono
The Hill – 6/23/2017
For more than fifty years Medicaid has provided much-needed security and stability to some of America’s most disempowered people. Especially for people with disabilities, Medicaid has been and remains an essential lifeline. That lifeline is under attack in the form of Draconian cuts proposed by both the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the current administration’s proposed budget. These cuts would, without exaggeration, upend millions of lives.
One community in particular – the blind – would be disproportionately and negatively affected if the more than $1 trillion in proposed Medicaid cuts came to fruition. According to an analysis of the cuts, upwards of seven hundred thousand people with disabilities would lose access to health insurance as a result of cuts to Medicaid. Based on the ratio of blind people currently using Medicaid relative to the total population of disabled people using Medicaid, more than one hundred thousand blind people would lose insurance, making these proposed cuts a potential catastrophe for blind people everywhere.
The National Federation of the Blind, the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind people in the United States, strongly and unequivocally opposes cuts to Medicaid. These proposed cuts would undermine the security, stability, and prosperity of more than one hundred thousand blind people in this country. This is an untenable prospect and we categorically reject it.
Whether it is a poverty rate twice the national average or an employment rate less than half the national level, the blind already face significant challenges in attaining the American dream. To strip health insurance from so many blind people would serve only to erect additional barriers and obstacles to our efforts to achieve that dream. Blind households would suddenly face drastically higher costs and strained budgets, exacerbating the preexisting challenges of high poverty and low employment.
Medicaid, which provides insurance to an estimated 1.4 million blind people, is a vital component of our continuing effort to promote opportunity and prosperity in our community. We thus call upon members of the United States Senate to oppose any bill that proposes cuts to Medicaid of the type contained in the AHCA and the current administration’s budget. We especially call upon the senators from the eleven states in which at least 40 percent of people with disabilities rely on Medicaid for health insurance to vote no on any legislation that would imperil the economic stability and family security of their blind constituents. Namely, senators from the states of California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia should join us in opposing any cuts to Medicaid. To vote in favor of such cuts would be to resign tens of thousands of blind people to a life of economic uncertainty and hardship.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson and former President Harry S. Truman stood alongside each other to commemorate the passage of the Social Security Amendments Act of 1965, the legislation that established both Medicare and Medicaid, it was clear that something historic and revolutionary had just happened. By extending access to health insurance to those who may not have access to it otherwise, Congress codified the idea that health insurance is an indispensable element of economic security and made it a reality. As a result, since 1965, millions of blind Americans have been able to live more stable and productive lives. To fundamentally undermine the Medicaid program would be to substantially roll back much of that progress. We sincerely hope that the Congress of today, and the Senate will not dishonor the legacy of its forbearers and in doing so, make it harder for we in the blind community to live the kind of lives we want.