Seniors and people with disabilities celebrate 40th birthday of vital health program
On the 40th anniversary month of Medicaid’s creation, health care providers, Medicaid recipients, health insurers and state officials joined together today at the Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center to celebrate the program’s success in providing health coverage to thousands of Oregonians and to call on Congress to protect Medicaid funding.
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Lighting the candles: Ben Young, Director, Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center and Jacqueline Zimmer Jones, Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities.
Group photo: From left, Marie Standeven, Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center resident, with family members, ; Jacqueline Zimmer Jones, Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities; Dr. Bruce Goldberg, Director, Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research.
Group photo: Facing camera from left; daughter of Marie Standeven; Marie Standeven, Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center resident, Jacqueline Zimmer Jones, Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities; Jim Davis, Oregon Association for Retired Citizens, United Seniors of Oregon.
Ruth McEwen, Adovcacy Coalition for Seniors and People with Disabilities, and Northwest Senior and Disability Services.
Marie Standeven, Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center resident.
Signed into law on July 30, 1965, Medicaid provides health coverage to roughly 50 million Americans — including 637,000 Oregon residents — who have low incomes, disabilities, or are elderly.
“We all know someone who has benefited from Medicaid. The grandparent receiving long-term nursing home care, the single parent who was laid off and relies on Medicaid for her child’s health needs, or a the disabled neighbor who could never afford adequate private coverage,” said Janet Bauer of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. “At age 40, Medicaid gives many Oregonians cause for celebration.”
Medicaid is the state’s largest funding source for nursing home care that provides the elderly and people with disabilities with the services to maintain and improve their health. “We work hard to ensure quality care for our residents,” said Judy Byers, an SEIU member and employee of the Evergreen Windsor Health and Rehabilitation Center. “My co-workers and I help our residents with tasks that most people take for granted – getting dressed, getting to the bathroom, having proper nutrition and balanced meals, and going from place to place.”
Medicaid’s Prognosis is in Doubt
Under the budget plan Congress approved this spring, by mid-September the House and Senate committees that oversee Medicaid are required to make $10 billion in program cuts for the next five years. Both the Bush Administration and Congressional leaders have made it clear that Medicaid is their main target for these cuts. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, however, shows that eight in ten Americans oppose cutting federal Medicaid funding.
“The Medicaid program is primarily responsible for health care access for so many vulnerable Oregonians who do not have private insurance coverage,” said Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director of the Office of Health Policy and Research. “As we celebrate Medicaid’s 40th birthday, we count on our policymakers in Washington to ensure that this year’s budget bill does not undermine Medicaid’s guarantee of affordable access to needed health care benefits. Congress should acknowledge the indispensable role Medicaid plays in Oregon and in our country by protecting it from budget cuts as much as possible and ensuring that any cuts that are made to the program do not harm the people who count on this program for their health care.”
“While the federal government faces a tough budget situation, there are more responsible ways to deal with it than by harming the poorest and least-healthy Oregonians,” added Bauer.
At a 40th anniversary celebration for Medicaid, Jacqueline Zimmer Jones of the Oregon Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Disabilities called on concerned citizens to send birthday postcards to Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden, urging them to protect Medicaid. As members of the Senate Finance Committee, both Smith and Wyden play a pivotal role in the Medicaid debate.
Today’s Medicaid anniversary party was sponsored by: CareOregon, Oregon Center for Public Policy, Oregonians for Health Security, Service Employees International Union, United Seniors of Oregon, Oregon Association for Retired Citizens, and Save Oregon Seniors.