Medicaid is not some distant program that benefits any one group of people, it’s a vital program that helps Americans across all demographics – racially, economically and generationally. Half of all children in California are covered by Medicaid and 1 in every 4 people over age 65.
Medicaid – called Medi-Cal in California – is the backbone of health coverage for more than 74 million Americans. Nearly 20 million receive services through not-for-profit health plans such as Health Plan of San Joaquin, which has almost 350,000 local members in the Northern San Joaquin Valley; in short, Medicaid is US.
Unfortunately, the United States Senate is putting millions of jobs at risk with its counterproductive gutting of Medicaid proposed under the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The BCRA moves America’s health care system, and our entire economy, in a dangerous and harmful direction. The Senate bill will phase out Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans and threatens the viability of the entire Medicaid system through its use of underfunded per capita allotments.
Medicaid isn’t welfare; it benefits working Americans.
Almost 60 percent of adults with Medicaid coverage are already working. Nearly half of them work for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
Medicaid is essential for hardworking Americans to keep their jobs. Medicaid helps people manage chronic illnesses – so they can keep working.
Medicaid is critical to supporting drug rehabilitation programs to counter the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation – so these people can get well, and get back to work.
Nearly two-thirds of older and disabled Americans rely on Medicaid to help pay for nursing homes and care. This lifts a tremendous burden off family members – so they can continue to work.
In state after state – including California – we see evidence of the benefits of Medicaid for people from all walks of life, and the economic and job security that Medicaid coverage brings to millions.
Here in California, according to the most recent report by California Department of Health Care Services, by 2027, nearly 3.8 million Californians would lose coverage and our state would lose about $24 billion in federal funding under what is currently known of Senate proposals.
While we cannot yet speak to the details, because they are in flux, we know that cuts of the severity being debated in Washington will have a range of devastating impacts. Health care harm would come to thousands of new moms, to tens of thousands of children facing Central Valley chronic conditions such as asthma, thousands more with diabetes or poor oral health and to working families struggling to care for a disabled child. Seniors in nursing homes could lose care.
With fewer federal dollars coming into California, and on into our local economy for medical services and preventative health, there would be less funding for healthcare workers – one of the bright spots in a growing jobs sector.
Overall, a markedly less-healthy workforce would very soon emerge. From there, impacts would ripple through our local economy.
In his campaign, and throughout his administration, President Donald Trump has promised, “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”
Millions of these forgotten Americans are able to work only because they get health-care coverage through Medicaid.
At Health Plan of San Joaquin, we have joined a campaign to support Medicaid called Medicaid is US. We did this because we felt a moral obligation to the San Joaquin and Stanislaus patients, families and communities we serve, so that they will be able to maintain access to quality, affordable health care.
But we also feel a responsibility to make this case in a civil and dignified manner that respects legitimate differences of opinion about health-care policy in America. Name-calling and finger-pointing gain us nothing. That is why we have focused on the impact of Medicaid on job creation and economic well-being.
At every point in our lives, Medicaid is there to ensure that we and our loved ones have the healthcare security they need to maintain their economic security. Medicaid belongs to everyone and benefits everyone. In this debate, there is no us and them. There is only us.
Amy Shin is CEO of Health Plan of San Joaquin and a board member of Washington, DC-based Association for Community Affiliated Plans.