Potential cuts to Medicaid create concern for our citizens, region

Ben MiladinAdvocates for a healthier Ohio and America have grown increasingly worried over the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA), a plan by the current administration to overhaul much of the American healthcare system. Particularly troubling are enormous cuts to Medicaid, which would roll back a large increase in enrollees, which the previous administration and Medicaid advocate Governor John Kasich brought to Ohio a few years ago.

Health, job implications of Medicaid

Medicaid is a program that is funded by the federal government and administered by the states. The consequences for millions of American’s hopes and dreams could be devastating without federal funding. Medicaid has proven to be one of the most successful investments in the American dream that the country has ever seen. A recent in-depth survey conducted by the State of Ohio helps demonstrate Medicaid’s impact. The state surveyed more than 7,500 Medicaid recipients and found impressive results.

An overwhelming majority of respondents (roughly 75 percent) said that having secure health insurance made it much easier for them to look for and obtain work. This is important to those who worry that Medicaid will lead people to be less incentivized to work.

This should not be surprising given there were significant improvements in health among those who receive Medicaid. According to the survey, direct measurements of patient blood pressure, obesity, and cholesterol, as well as self-reports about mental health was greatly improved. This data showcases an important point that in order to thrive, and move up the economic ladder, having a solid foundation of health is critical.

Changes to Medicaid

However, despite this success, House leadership and the current administration are advocating for a bill that would eliminate vast amounts of funding for Medicaid.

Ohio alone is expected to lose between $19-26 billion dollars from 2019 to 2025, with total losses across the country in excess of $800 billion dollars. With funding reductions such as these, there is simply no way that Medicaid can avoid cutting off millions of people from the benefits of the program.

Approximately 30 percent of our Cuyahoga County friends and neighbors are currently receiving assistance from Medicaid, and this will almost certainly be lower should the AHCA pass. Job losses and investments in new and innovative practices in the region at our local healthcare institutions could also be considerable.

The United Way position

United Way of Greater Cleveland works with many agencies that use the Medicaid program to help people live healthier, more productive lives every single day. Our funding to them combines with Medicaid funding to create new opportunities for health and success for people struggling with disabilities, mental health issues, addictions, layoffs and other challenges.

With cuts to Medicaid, such as those proposed, our community will be less able to help our own people thrive. For this reason, United Way of Greater Cleveland will work with our elected representatives to tell the stories of those negatively affected by potential Medicaid cuts and to advocate for the continued strength of the Medicaid program.

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