This week, across the country, millions of people are celebrating the creation, 47 years ago, of two programs that have touched hundreds of millions of lives. Medicare and Medicaid often help bridge the gap between someone dying of a curable, or at least manageable, ailment, or living a productive, fulfilling life. When we talk about these two programs, we often focus on the number, the $25.6 Billion being spent on the elderly, children and adults. But Medicare/Medicaid is really about people.
On August 2nd, Action NC, along with seniors, students and adults, celebrated the "births" of these two programs in style. We had a good ol' fashioned birthday party, complete with party hats, music, cake and noise makers. Everyone had a great time and a few people spoke about the ways they personally have benefited both from Medicare and Medicaid, and also from the Affordable Care Act. They want not just to support these programs, but to strengthen them.
According to the article Medicaid: A Primer, data shows that "Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending is for seniors and people with disabilities." For me, the thought of living in the most prosperous nation in history runs contrary to the idea that seniors and those with disabilities, those with the least ability to pay for healthcare and the most need, should be forced to foot the bill. Of course, opponents of Medicare and Medicaid are quick to point out that they have "options." But what kind of option does one have when the choice is between paying for medicine and paying for food, or electricity? And what about people who must take their medicine with food? On a fixed income, when every other bill is on the rise, having to ration medicine or delay necessary, sometimes lifesaving procedures, should be criminal.
Yet that's exactly what those who want to slash these programs, and who are vying for our votes this November, are saying. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program, cut Medicaid in half, and reduce Social Security—and create huge holes in the safety net protecting us all. The average American lives two paychecks away from poverty, away from needing these programs. According to that same study, between 2008 and 2009, Medicaid enrollment rose by 79% over the norm. Average, working families need these programs.
Action NC went directly to GOP Campaign headquarters with this report and attempted to deliver it. When we rang the doorbell, they locked the deadbolt and closed the blinds. When we attempted at least to put the report through the mail slot, they had taped it shut! Apparently they don't want this inconvenient information. What they do want is to move money from the middle-class into the pockets of the wealthy, privatize everything, and let the Market (which has been, and continues to be, manipulated by Wall St. bankers) decide who lives and who suffers. To those who would cut these life-saving programs and send millions of people into financial ruin or worse, we say, "No! Cut Cake, Not Benefits!"