Cuts to Medicaid would endanger the lives of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, according to a report released on Tuesday.
Barack Obama has also said that his plan would reduce spending for benefit programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, by $580 billion.
That could pose a threat to people who depend on Medicaid for regular treatment of diseases, spokespeople for Families USA, the American Diabetes Association and the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, said during a teleconference Tuesday to release the report “Medicaid’s Impact in Pennsylvania.”
“A huge number of people depend on Medicaid,” said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA, which bills itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans. “I hope when budget decisions are made, people will be spared from cutbacks.”
In 2000, 65 percent of Americans had health insurance through their workplace. Census figures released last week showed that is now down to 55 percent. As a result more people are depending on Medicaid as a safety net.
Millions of Pennsylvanians are covered by Medicaid. Of this number:
• An estimated 43,750 Pennsylvanians on Medicaid have cancer, including 1,180 children, 27,590 adults and 14,980 seniors;
• An estimated 150,420 Pennsylvanians on Medicaid receive treatment for diabetes, including 5,200 children, 102,480 adults and 42,750 seniors;
• An estimated 342,120 Pennsylvanians with chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis, including 143,560 children, 163,960 adults, and 34,600 seniors, rely on Medicaid coverage;
• An estimated 378,270 Pennsylvanians depend on Medicaid for treatment of heart disease or stroke, including 18,890 children, 253,570 adults and 105,810 seniors.
Although Pennsylvania administers its own Medicaid program, every dollar the state spends for health coverage for low-income individuals is matched at least dollar for dollar by the federal government.
Health insurance is critical for maintaining the health of diabetics, said Robb Wilson, Harrisburg advocacy chairman for the American Diabetes Association. People who are on Medicaid are more likely to be in poor health and more likely to have diabetes.
“Cuts to Medicaid funding would be harmful to the millions of children, pregnant women and adults with diabetes who rely on the program to manage their disease and avoid dangerous and costly diabetes complications such as blindness, amputations and kidney dialysis,” Wilson said.
Deb Brown, president and chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, said Medicaid is not a luxury for people with lung diseases, it is a lifeline.
“The lives of children are at stake,” she said. “The budget shouldn’t be balanced on the backs of our children. Children’s health must be put before politics. Protect the health of our nation’s most vulnerable population, particularly our children who will be most impacted by cuts to Medicaid.”