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If you have never been incensed about public policy and its impact on our field, now is the time.
A budget proposal submitted this week for fiscal year 2012 calls for major cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, senior housing, and Older Americans Act programs.
This proposal will likely come to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote the week of April 10, when many of you will be in Washington, DC, to visit your legislators during our Future of Aging Services Conference. We need to make all members of Congress aware of the harm this budget would do to the aging-services field and the people we serve.
Among the cuts called for in the budget resolution are the following:
These proposals are unethical based on the American character, and they reflect bad economics.
Seniors would lose coverage for essential long-term services and supports as well as access to affordable housing and rental assistance. Direct-care workers would suffer wage cuts and job losses. Family caregivers would lose the supportive services that enable many of them to remain employed while maintaining an elder at home.
As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said in a recent report, “Given that payment rates for providers under Medicaid are already generally lower than they are under Medicare and private insurance, if states lowered payment rates even further, providers might be less willing to treat Medicaid enrollees.” In Illinois, the Medicaid reimbursement rate is equivalent to about $5 per hour. That's less than what people pay for a babysitter or a dog walker.
CBO goes on to say that if enrollees are cut out of Medicaid, there is going to be more uncompensated care. This means more emergency room visits, longer hospital stays, fewer jobs, lower quality care, more lawsuits, more regulation, and higher insurance premiums. Is that good economics?
Every family is one health care event away from needing long-term services and supports. Under this budget proposal, families would have to pay more for less coverage and fewer services. It is unconscionable for these policy makers to think we should address the country’s financial woes on the backs of vulnerable people and those who care for them.
Please Contact Congress and urge your senators and representatives not to support this proposed attack on programs that are there when the phone rings in the middle of the night and Grandpa has a stroke or Mom has to choose between paying rent and buying groceries.
Tell them our country’s seniors need a safety net, not a black hole.
Helping people is the solution for a healthy and viable America, not the problem. Now is the time to be vocal about your anger.
Now is the time to act.