Medicaid Vital to Protecting Health for Millions of Americans

Washington,
September 14, 2011

Many Americans battle such medical conditions as cancer, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and stroke, but those individuals who rely on Medicaid for their drugs and treatment will face extraordinary health challenges if Congress cuts funding for that program.

State-specific reports released today detail the millions of individuals from California, Illinois, New York, and Texas who could lose access to their doctors, medications and treatments, and needed hospital care as a result of Medicaid cuts.

The reports were released jointly by four organizations to voice their concern over the potential impact of Medicaid cuts on this vulnerable population: the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, and Families USA.

The joint release of these reports signifies the critical need to oppose cuts to Medicaid during the upcoming “super committee” negotiations.

Today’s release of four state reports was the kick-off for the release of an additional 18 state-specific reports via nationwide teleconferences over the next several weeks. States that will be spotlighted in the reports are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Reports for the remaining 28 states and the District of Columbia will be released online at www.familiesusa.org.  

“Hard-working Americans with diseases such as cancer can get health coverage through Medicaid after having lost their health insurance because they are too ill to work or run through their savings,” said Christopher Hansen, President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “This program is a safety net for American families, and losing access to the program could force them to stop treatment that could save their lives.”
 
“Diabetes has a disproportionate impact on the Medicaid population because Medicaid provides important health coverage to people facing elevated health risks.  Children and adults eligible for this valuable program are more likely to be in poor health and thus require the services Medicaid provides to a greater extent than individuals with private insurance,” said Gina Gavlak, RN, BSN, Vice Chair of the National Advocacy Committee, American Diabetes Association. “Cuts to Medicaid funding would be harmful to the millions of children, pregnant women, and adults with diabetes who rely on the program to manage their disease and avoid dangerous and costly diabetes complications such as blindness, amputations and kidney dialysis.”

“Millions of children, adults and seniors nationwide suffer from chronic lung disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cystic fibrosis,” said Charles D. Connor, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “We need to protect the health of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, particularly our children with asthma and cystic fibrosis who will face the biggest burden from cuts to Medicaid. If denied this critical health care coverage, it will result in more costly heath care options, including increased emergency room visits.”

“I don’t think anyone doubts what the spokespersons from these esteemed organizations are saying—that with the help available through Medicaid, these serious health challenges can be met head-on and controlled, affording the people with these conditions the chance to work, to raise their families and to contribute to our communities,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “Cutting these Medicaid recipients off from access to their treatments, their prescriptions, and their physicians runs counter to everything we hope to accomplish in a mature and humane society.”

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.