Medicaid Awareness Month Archives — Protect Our Care

Advocates Nationwide Highlight How Medicaid Supports People with Disabilities

Throughout the fourth and final week of Medicaid Awareness Month, advocates across the country highlighted the significant role Medicaid plays in supporting Americans with disabilities, and spoke out against Republican proposals to weaken and cut Medicaid.

How does Medicaid help Americans with disabilities? Here are some of the many ways:

  • 8.7 million nonelderly adults with disabilities depend on Medicaid for care. Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income.
  • More than 1 in 3 adults under age 65 enrolled in Medicaid lives with at least one disability. Nearly 45 percent of adults with disabilities have Medicaid coverage. Medicaid covers 45 percent of nonelderly adults with disabilities, including adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illness.
  • Medicaid covers nearly a third of adults with disabilities. 31 percent of U.S. adults with disabilities have Medicaid coverage.
  • More than half of adults with disabilities covered through Medicaid earn less than 100 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). A majority, 52 percent, of adults with disabilities who have Medicaid coverage earn annual incomes of less than l 00 percent of the FPL, $12,060 for an individual, and could not afford needed care without the program.
  • Medicaid helps people who need long-term care to stay in their communities. Of nonelderly people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for long-term care, 80 percent receive community-based care, while only 20 percent receive institutional care.

At the Main State House, Nancy Cronin, the Executive Director of the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council, Sara Squires, the Public Policy Director of Disability Rights Maine, and Rebecca London, the State Director of Protect Our Care Maine, held a press conference to discuss how Medicaid benefits Americans with disabilities.

Dawn Alford, Public Policy Director, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, posted Medicaid: A Lifeline to the Community on Community Catalyst’s Health Policy Hub to highlight the importance of Medicaid to Georgians with disabilities.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling found that voters nationally strongly support Medicaid and are opposed to cutting it, especially to fund tax breaks. Among its findings:

  • 66% of voters oppose cutting Medicaid, as opposed to just 19% who support cuts. 74% of Democrats and Independents oppose cutting Medicaid, while a plurality of Republicans, 49%,  also oppose cuts. In fact, only 34% of Republicans support cutting Medicaid.
  • 71% of voters overall say they are opposed to cutting Medicaid to fund the GOP tax scam which passed last year, including 82% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans.
  • A majority of voters (52%) want to see Medicaid expanded, compared to just 35% who don’t.
  • Learning that Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents and 40 percent of costs for long-term care that seniors depend on made voters 63% less likely to support cuts. Voters were 53% less likely to support cuts after learning that if Medicaid funding is cut, 1 in 5 Americans – seniors, children, and individuals with disabilities – will be at risk of losing access to healthcare.

Leading advocates hosted press calls across the country to convey just how important Medicaid is to those with disabilities in communities across the country. In Nevada, parents from the organization Positively Kids spoke of the role it plays for their children with disabilities; in Tennessee, community leaders discussed how Medicaid supports Tennesseans with disabilities; and in Ohio, local physicians and health care experts called out gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine’s refusal to clarify his Medicaid position and explained the problems which would occur should the state’s expansion be rolled back.

And as Medicaid Awareness Month wraps up, the Conway Daily Sun published a comprehensive overview about the importance of Medicaid to New Hampshire communities and shared information about how to enroll.

Advocates Nationwide Highlight How Medicaid Supports Seniors and Older Adults

Throughout the third week of Medicaid Awareness Month, advocates across the country highlighted the significant role Medicaid plays supporting seniors and older adults, and spoke out against Republican proposals to weaken and cut Medicaid. Medicaid covers more than 15 million Americans over age 50.

In Arizona, the the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Arizona Alliance for Healthcare Security joined state Reps. Daniel Hernandez and Cesar Chavez to discuss how Medicaid serves a lifeline to Arizona’s Seniors and older Americans.

How does Medicaid help seniors and older adults in the United States? Here are some of the many ways:

  • More Than 6.9 Million American Seniors Have Medicaid Coverage. 6,920,200 seniors, age 65 and older, are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • More Than 8.5 Million Adults Ages 50 To 64 Are Enrolled In Medicaid. More than 8.5 million Americans ages 50 to 64 have health coverage through Medicaid – many thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
  • Nearly 1 In 3 Seniors Live Below 200 Percent Of The Federal Poverty Line. For many of these seniors, Medicaid is a critical lifeline.
  • Medicaid Funds 53 Percent Of Long-Term Care Nationwide. As seniors age, long-term care services become more and more vital, serving half of seniors over age 75 and three in four seniors over age 85.
  • Medicaid Covers 6 In 10 Nursing Home Residents. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $82,000 – nearly three times most seniors’ annual income.
  • Over 1 In 5 Medicare Beneficiaries Also Have Medicaid Coverage. Most dual-eligibles are over age 65, and are more likely to have complex and chronic health needs.

In West Virginia, West Virginians Together for Medicaid, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, West Virginia Citizen Action Group, and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy joined together to discuss the importance of Medicaid for seniors in the state and how cuts to the program be devastating for older West Virginians.

In the Daily Post-Athenian, Pam Weston of Sweetwater, Tennessee highlighted the benefits Medicaid provides for Tennessee residents:

In Tennessee alone, Medicaid provides coverage for 1,539,743 of our citizens, a number which includes children, senior citizens, and persons with severe disabilities. If Tennessee had implemented Medicaid expansion, the number eligible for coverage would have easily surpassed 2 million.

What many may not realize is that Medicaid provides $4 billion annually to support school-based health services. Sixty-eight percent of Tennessee’s schools use Medicaid funds to provide school nurses, counselors, and speech therapy. Outside the school setting, Medicaid covers 43 percent of all Tennessee’s children.

At a time when the opioid epidemic is a concern for most of Tennessee, it is important to note that 10 percent of all buprenorphine used to treat opioid addiction is paid for by Medicaid dollars.

Lastly, three out of five nursing home residents rely on Medicaid to cover their healthcare needs, and nearly a quarter of all seniors and individuals with disabilities are covered by Medicaid.

If $1.4 trillion is to be cut from Medicaid to offset the tax breaks provided to cororations under the recent “tax reform” plan, should the cuts be applied to medically fragile seniors, children, or to those with disabilities? It is said that a nation is judged by how it cares for it’s most vulnerable citizens. Cuts and per capita caps applied to Medicaid services will leave our most vulnerable without the care they require, and that does not speak well for what we have become.

In Tennessee, six Nashville residents, including small business owners, non-profit directors, and reverends, shared their personal stories of how Medicaid has benefitted their mother, fathers, and grandparents and grandparents.

Lindsey Copeland highlighted the work of Medicaid Awareness Month for the Medicare Rights Center.

And in The Hill, Max Ritchman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, highlighted how just how important Medicaid is for older Americans’ health. Read his post:

April is Medicaid Awareness Month, but many Americans are truly unaware of what the program does for seniors. Medicaid is typically viewed as a health insurance program for the poor, which, of course, it is. But it also provides crucial supports for older Americans. Medicaid covers nearly 7 million seniors and more than 8.5 million “near seniors” aged 50-64. One in five Medicare beneficiaries (known as “dual eligibles”) also have Medicaid coverage to help pay premiums and co-pays.

Many people don’t realize that Medicaid helps millions of seniors to pay for long-term care  — in skilled nursing facilities as well as in-home and community-based care. In fact, Medicaid pays for more than 50 percent of long-term care nationwide. The program covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents. At an average annual cost of $82,000 (nearly three times most seniors’ annual incomes) long-term care would simply be out of reach for millions of elderly Americans if it weren’t for Medicaid.

“Seniors often need services from Medicaid that are not covered by Medicare,” says Rebecca Vallas, VP of the Poverty Program at the Center for American Progress. “These services include assistance with bathing and dressing, preparing meals, and many other activities of daily living.” Vallas explains that Medicaid “allows millions of seniors to age in place, to stay with their families and in their communities.”

In a Facebook Live interview this week, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) told me that Medicaid is “the backbone for our healthcare infrastructure across the country.” But the Congressman isn’t confident that Americans sufficiently appreciate the crucial role that Medicaid plays. “So many [people] have heard of these programs,” said Rep. Kennedy, “But they don’t quite understand how integral they have become to preserving the dignity, the stability, the security of so many Americans.”

President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into law in 1965, and it’s no accident that the two were created simultaneously. Both programs were designed to provide health insurance to vulnerable members of society who previously went without medical coverage  — including the poor and the elderly. Over the past half a century, Medicare and Medicaid have been expanded to cover more people and more services.

Medicaid’s ability to cover older Americans at a time of their lives when chronic conditions and other health issues typically emerge took a big leap forward with passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA expanded Medicaid to cover people earning up to 138 percent of the poverty line. As a result, more than 15 million additional Americans received federal health coverage.

Many of those were in the 50-64 age group that typically has trouble buying private health insurance. According to the Center for Retirement Research, “The share of Americans ages 50-64 without insurance fell by 6.4 percentage points between 2012 and 2016 — due at least in part to increased Medicaid enrollment in the expansion states.”

Unfortunately, Medicaid has been under siege in Congress ever since the ACA was enacted. When the majority party took control of all branches of government in 2017, they tried relentlessly to gut the program  — starting with Obamacare repeal legislation all the way through President Trump’s first two budgets and various House GOP budget proposals.

The details vary in each dark scenario, but the commonalities included cutting more than $1 trillion from Medicaid, imposing per capita caps on payments to the states, or converting it into a block grant program. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that these draconian measures would have resulted in 14 million Americans losing health coverage over the next ten years.

Even though those devastating proposals failed, Medicaid remains under assault from the right. The Trump/GOP tax cuts enacted last December will blow a $1.5 trillion hole in the national debt, inviting deep cuts to Medicaid (as well as Medicare and Social Security). Meanwhile, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, when the new tax law is fully phased in, 83 percent of the tax cuts will go to the wealthiest 1 percent.

Unsatisfied with the mere prospect of slashing Medicaid, the majority party offered a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) last week that would have triggered $114 billion in Medicaid cuts in a single year. The BBA attracted 233 votes (mostly along party lines), but fortunately failed to win the 2/3 of the House it would have needed to advance to the Senate.

The onslaught continues in the Trump administration, which is busy granting waivers for work requirements, drug testing, and other bureaucratic barriers that will result in Medicaid patients being kicked off the rolls.

“President Trump and his colleagues in Congress appear to have learned from their failed attempt to take away health insurance from tens of millions legislatively… that they need to do it in a back-door way, without the public catching on,” says Vallas.

Ironically, the right’s efforts to destroy the ACA and gut Medicaid have made Americans more aware of the program’s value. “They did something that Democrats couldn’t do for a long time. They made Medicaid popular,” says Rep. Kennedy.

Indeed, a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted in March found that 74 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of Medicaid, including 65 percent of Republicans. In that same poll, 7 in 10 respondents said that they have a personal connection to Medicaid  — either because of their own medical coverage or their child’s, or indirectly through a family member or friend.

In a recent poll by the Center for American Progress, a whopping 80 percent of respondents (across party lines) said they oppose cutting Medicaid. “The Trump agenda of dismantling health care is the opposite of what the American people want,” says Vallas. “Americans want their policymakers to ensure that everyone has access to healthcare, not take away programs like Medicaid that make it possible for grandma to be in the nursing home.”

Our elected leaders need to understand that these Americans whose lives have been touched by Medicaid  — or likely will be by the time they are older — are people for whom Medicaid is a lifeline. They are not figures on a ledger, despite budget hawks’ tendency to view them that way. Even if our leadership isn’t sufficiently aware, it’s important that all of us  — their constituents — understand the myriad benefits that Medicaid provides seniors and everyone else who truly needs them. In fact, let’s make every month “Medicaid Awareness Month” until the program is safe from attack by budget slashers and properly fortified for the future.

Advocates Nationwide Highlight Medicaid’s Role In Combating Opioid Crisis

Throughout the second week of Medicaid Awareness Monthadvocates across the country highlighted the significant role Medicaid plays in combating the opioid crisis – most notable being that in 2014 Medicaid paid for one-fourth of addiction treatment nationwide – and spoke out against Republican proposals to weaken and cut Medicaid.

In Ohio, Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeney, Cheryl Beverly, Operator of Cheryl’s House of Hope, and Michelle McAllister, Coordinator for the Heroine Partnership Project, held a press conference to discuss how changes to the state’s Medicaid program would leave over 150,000 Ohioans that suffer from substance abuse disorders and mental illness without care.

Protect Our Care released an opioid crisis fact sheet, showing how Medicaid provides access to treatment and gives states more resources in combating the epidemic.

In Tennessee, Chip Forrester, a father who lost his son to opioids, held a roundtable discussion about the crisis and how restricting access to Medicaid threatens lives and impedes states’ ability to respond to the epidemic.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report analyzing how Better Integration of Medicaid and Federal Grant Funding Would Improve Outcomes for People with Substance Use Disorders.

ACA Medicaid Expansion Reduced Share of Opioid-Related Hospitalizations in Which Patient Was Uninsured


In Ohio,  Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham and health care leaders in Steubenville held a press conference to talk discuss how Medicaid benefits thousands of Ohioans suffering from substance abuse disorders.

And in Alaska and West Virginia, advocates held a virtual postcard sending party throughout the week to send notes thanking Sen. Lisa Murkowski for supporting Medicaid and encouraging her to continue doing so, culminating in a stand up event outside Sen. Murkowski’s Anchorage office emphasizing the role Medicaid plays in addressing the opioid crisis, and a press conference with faith leaders which focused on the opioid crisis and how West Virginia’s faith community can address substance abuse disorders in the state, respectively.


Advocates: April is Medicaid Awareness Month

Washington, D.C. – A coalition of health care advocacy groups will observe Medicaid Awareness Month this April, conducting educational campaigns focused on a different topic each week, culminating in a national Medicaid Day of Action on April 30. As federal and state-level threats mount, advocates will highlight the full scope of this critical program.

As Kaiser Health News’ Medicaid Nation series has recently emphasized, Medicaid plays an often-unheralded but central role delivering a wide range of public services to children, seniors, working families, people with disabilities, and people coping with mental health and substance use disorders. From Medicaid’s essential role facilitating special education in K-12 schools to its financial support for over 60% of nursing home beds nationwide, Medicaid Awareness Month will enhance awareness of the many ways this popular program strengthens American communities.

Organizations participating in this year’s Medicaid Awareness Month include:

  • Protect Our Care
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Center for American Progress
  • Community Catalyst
  • First Focus
  • Health Care for America Now
  • Health Care Voter
  • National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
  • Organizing For Action
  • SEIU

As advocates and activists across the country highlight Medicaid’s critical importance in our communities, they will also educate the public about threatened cuts to the program. These include the President’s most recent budget, which would slash the program by $1.4 trillion; ongoing Congressional leadership discussion of ‘entitlement reform’; and a series of recent actions by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that encourage states to cut Medicaid enrollment by imposing new restrictions and eligibility hurdles.

This year’s Medicaid Awareness Month will center around four distinct focuses: kids, families, and Medicaid; Medicaid’s key role in fighting the opioid crisis; seniors, older adults, and Medicaid; and how Medicaid serves people with disabilities.

For more information, please visit the Medicaid Awareness Month Resource Kit, which will be updated continuously throughout April.