Putting the Spotlight on Medicaid

by Elyssa Koidin

  

10:39 AM Jun 24, 2011

Medicaid is the principal source of health care and long-term services for more than 50 million children, adults with disabilities, and Older Americans. It is a joint federal/state program that pays for medical assistance and long-term care for low-income and elderly Americans. This program provides vital care to millions of people who otherwise would find their disability or illness a significant economic and personal burden.

This is why the JCPA is incredibly concerned with Congressional proposals, including the House-passed 2012 budget, which would restructure the Medicaid program by capping funds flowing to states and/or by changing the program to a block grant. Either of these moves would result in the denial of care to millions of vulnerable people. Under a block grant or funding cap, states would have no choice but to sharply restrict enrollment, eligibility, and benefits for populations they currently serve. Many populations who currently qualify for Medicaid could end up uninsured, including people who states are currently required to cover such as poor children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

Proposed cuts and changes to Medicaid have become part of the larger deficit reduction debate. Unfortunately, most Members of Congress are concentrating on other issues. We have heard very little from both the House of Representatives and the Senate on the importance of protecting the Medicaid program. Members of Congress will be heading back to their districts for the Fourth of July recess in coming days and we think this is the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on Medicaid and let them know how important this program is for our local communities.

What can you do? The JCPA, in collaboration with the Jewish Federations of North America, has compiled a list of activities that you can do during the Fourth of July recess (and throughout the next month) to raise the profile of Medicaid. A full toolkit can be found here.

1.    Educate yourself on the issue- The Jewish Federations of North America has put together this excellent background piece on what capping Medicaid spending would mean. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also put together this report on the effect a block grant would have on states.

2.    Hold a site visit- Many Members of Congress are not familiar with how Medicaid dollars are actually used in their own communities. A site visit to a hospital, long-term care community, home and community-based service provider, nursing home, or vocational agency can deeply change the views of a Member of Congress and their staff. The JCPA and Jewish Federations of North America have put together this comprehensive how-to guide on holding a site visit.

3.    Submit an op-ed on Medicaid to your local paper- There is no better way to raise the profile of an issue than to have an article written about it in your local newspaper. Members of Congress read the op-ed pages of their local newspapers every single day. The Jewish Federation of North America has put together this op-ed template for you to use. If you need help adapting this to your local needs please contact the JCPA’s Communications Associate Ben Suarato.

4.    Send out an action alert- Members of Congress need to hear directly from their constituents that they want Medicaid to be protected. At some point over the next few weeks, send out an action alert to your network. The St. Louis JCRC sent out a great action alert on Medicaid, which can be used as a template.

With so much on the line, the most important thing to do over the next couple of weeks is SOMETHING. It is incredibly important to increase community awareness of the importance of Medicaid and ensure that elected officials know that this is a program that must be protected.

If you have any questions on this issue please contact Elyssa Koidin.

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