My Medicaid Matters…whose Medicaid?
Jamie Louise Cooney,
“MY MEDICAID MATTERS, MY MEDICAID MATTERS, MY MEDICAID MATTERS!” We chanted, hoping everyone in the Capitol building would hear our cry to protect Medicaid. On Sept. 21, hundreds of us made our way up Capitol Hill to rally against arbitrary cuts to Medicaid. A wide variety of organizations and individuals stood united for reforms to save money without weakening Medicaid services.
Gerontology is my
field. I’ve always felt passionate about helping elderly people in distress. So
when my field instructor at the
Support for Some Not for All
I knew that a huge number of poor elderly
had no other way to get medical care except through Medicaid, but as I
researched Medicaid to get ready for the rally, the scales fell from my eyes:
The elderly make up only a small part of those who will not have health care
without Medicaid. At the rally, I was
stunned to learn that 49 percent of those on Medicaid are children. Nearly half
of Medicaid is for kids! Yet I was amazed that practically no children or
families attended the rally. Normally, people are passionate about kids. Could
it be that children’s advocates weren’t rallying alongside me because they have
no clue that 49
The Cuts to Medicaid that Won’t Heal
Speaker after speaker told personal stories about how Medicaid is the only way they can get the health services they need. Billy Wright, an elderly man, relies on Medicaid to stay in the community and out of an institution. Gilda Brown provides homecare for a disabled woman. Medicaid pays Brown, who makes her living as a home health aide. Rahnee Patrick said Medicaid paid for her wheelchair. After hearing these personal stories, how can we justify cuts to a program that is so essential to the lives of real human beings, our neighbors, maybe even our relatives?
Power in Passion not Numbers
When I think of how many people are on Medicaid in comparison to how many were at the rally, to say I’m disappointed is an understatement. A few hundred people fighting on behalf of more than 50 million Americans is mindboggling! The image of standing shoulder to shoulder like crusaders in the historic civil rights rallies quickly evaporated when I was hit with the harsh reality of the lack of support Medicaid receives. Although the numbers weren’t there, the enthusiasm, the speakers, and the sense of empowerment were. Congressman Danny Davis, whose booming voice was like that of Dr. Martin Luther King, gave the crowd great words of encouragement: “Without struggle, there is no progress; without pain, there is no success.” We may have been struggling to fight cuts in Medicaid but as a group, we were going to battle using all means possible. We were empowered individuals.
A rally isn’t something everyone gets to
experience. Not everyone can say they are passionate about something and feel
so strongly about it that they would do almost anything necessary to protect
it. Medicaid can mean life or death for
people. Is that not something that
Americans should feel strongly about, should want to protect, and should want
to fight for? It is for all of these
reasons and more, that together with hundreds of Americans with disabilities I
Jamie Cooney is a