New report shows Medicaid cuts could leave scores of Wisconsinites facing life-threatening health challenges.
Washington wants to reform Medicaid, but Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA, says a federal cutback to the states is difficult to absorb because states nationwide are experiencing their own fiscal crises.
“As a result, states are likely to shift the burden onto those people who are on the programs and it might make it very difficult for people who depend on Medicaid as their lifeline to continue getting the coverage that they need.”
The report details how tens of thousands of Wisconsinites are living with chronic medical conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung disease. About 1.1 million Wisconsinites are enrolled in Medicaid — that’s about one in every five state residents. Pollack says many seniors, adults and children depend on the program for regular treatment.
“It helps Wisconsin children get a healthier start in life and school; it helps to maintain a healthy Wisconsin workforce; and it helps to head off medical debt, a leading cause of bankruptcies and home foreclosures.”
The report says someone with a chronic disease who doesn’t have health care coverage is in jeopardy of falling into economic distress and potential bankruptcy. The average cost of a hospital stay after having had a heart attack is almost $63,000. Pollack says, considering the recession, now is the wrong time for cuts.
“With rising health care costs hurting family pocketbooks, and with the economic downturn driving more families to depend on Medicaid, this is precisely the wrong time to cut Medicaid to Wisconsin and to other states.”
State health officials on Friday released their proposed changes to the Medicaid program, including eligibility requirements, to find over $544 million in costs savings. Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced legislation to take away the Walker administration’s power to decide what public health programs to cut.
The importance of Medicaid to Wisconsinites is detailed in a report released jointly Tuesday by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, and the health care consumer group Families USA.