As members of Congress returned home for August recess, Rights & Democracy held a listening session with Vermont seniors at the Champlain Senior Center in Burlington to discuss the impact of the national GOP ‘s health care agenda and hear seniors’ concerns, thoughts, hopes, and ideas.
Sixty percent of people who receive vital care and services through Medicaid are older adults 50 years of age and older and people with disabilities.
In 2017, Medicaid provides coverage for 27.7 million adults, 10 million people with disabilities, and 5.8 million seniors. In addition to covering most people in nursing homes, Medicaid also covers the majority of home care, which ninety percent of people prefer to an institution.
Gutting Medicaid would not only threaten the ability of older adults to age at home with dignity, it could eliminate one in three home care jobs, cruelly take away healthcare from the people who care for others, and shift caregiving responsibilities onto more adult children, putting their own jobs and financial security at risk.
In Vermont specifically, approximately 200,000 Vermonters depend on Medicaid for their medical care including 22,300 Vermont seniors. Thirty thousand Vermonters are “dual eligibles” or individuals (seniors or people with disabilities) entitled to both Medicare and some level of Medicaid benefits.
The majority of Republicans in Congress recently voted in favor of bills that would not only have repealed the Affordable Care Act and eliminated new Medicaid coverage for 11 million people, but would also have radically restructured the 52-year old Medicaid program that funds two-third of long-term services, including nursing home and in-home care for seniors and people with disabilities.
Although Republicans failed to pass their Medicaid proposals as part of ACA repeal, and though roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose cuts to Medicaid, President Donald Trump and House Republicans accelerated their assault with a federal budget proposal that includes even deeper cuts to Medicaid than those in their repeal bill, as well as significant changes to Medicare. These cuts are part of a package that would at the same time provide trillions in tax breaks to millionaires and corporations.
Rights & Democracy was joined by Senator Bernie Sander’s Director of Health Policy Kathryn Becker Van Haste as well as state legislators from Chittenden County to listen to seniors and discuss efforts in Vermont and nationally to protect their health care. Burlington Reps. Selene Colburn and Brian Cina attended the session with more than 30 seniors. Cina is the lead sponsor of the Universal Primary Care bill.
The event was part of a national day of action jointly sponsored by Caring Across Generations (CAG) and Health Care for America Now (HCAN).