Many of my friends and neighbors in Bradenton don’t understand why Medicaid cuts could matter to them. I would like to shine light on the cuts in the American Health Care Act currently under consideration in the Senate, and how it might impact you or your family.
The bill will remove $880 billion from the Medicaid budget by 2026, largely by giving block grants to states, based on a fixed amount per enrolled person. This is not planned to increase over time though we know healthcare expenses go up. Thus, year by year, more and more of the expense of Medicaid will be transferred to the states. State responses to this will vary, but the risk is that existing programs will be drastically cut.
Those who will be hurt are poor and sick older Americans, and the disabled. In 2014, nearly 25 percent of the Medicaid budget went to fund long-term services. This includes nursing homes, of course. But it also includes funding for programs that enable seniors to live at home with help.
What happens when Mom can’t live by herself without help and there is no funding available to support help for her? Most families either move Mom into their home, which can be a temporary solution. Or, one daughter (most often) spends more time at Mom’s home. In a recent study by Boston College Center for Retirement Research, caretakers spent an average of 77 hours per month caring for a loved one. The consequences, aside from stress, are cutbacks in work hours and thus income, or temporary retirement to provide this care. Some surveys suggested that caretakers spend 35 percent of their budget caring for a loved one.
We haven’t touched on the disabled programs under consideration for cuts. Can’t we come together to stop these inhumane cuts?
Linda M. Christmann, M.D., MBA