Consider it a matter of dollars and sense: Medicaid is not only vital for the health of low-income children, the disabled and the elderly, but it is playing a critical role in the economic recovery.
Every day, families rely on Medicaid to get their kids immunized, take them to a dentist, or manage chronic childhood asthma. Supporting a program like this just makes sense. Medicaid and the health professionals employed to safeguard our state’s health are also helping reinvigorate its economy. That’s bringing in necessary dollars.
Congressional proposals to drastically reduce Medicaid spending would do very little to address the deficit or quell rising medical costs. Instead, they would worsen the health of hundreds of thousands of kids in our state alone.
The local impact of potential Medicaid cuts has been outlined in a series of in-depth papers. They note that:
- In Central Washington, 116,000 children – including 4,500 newborns – could lose access to preventive health care services such as immunizations, well-child visits, dentistry, dialysis and eye exams;
- In Eastern Washington, hospitals would no longer be able to pay for 26,000 emergency room visits;
- In the Seattle area, 6,500 babies and their mothers would lose access to maternity and newborn care;
- In Southwestern Washington, hospitals would no longer be able to pay for the cost of caring for 1 in 10 of their patients.
Right now, in each of these areas, Medicaid is putting needed money into people’s pockets. Doctors and nurses paid with Medicaid dollars reinvest that money in the local economy. According to a recent paper by Families USA, if Medicaid is cut by 33 percent, Washington state could lose as much as $3.5 billion in business activity and 28,030 jobs.
With our state still losing jobs, we don’t have 28,000 more to spare.
Federal lawmakers should recognize the value of the Medicaid safety net – in both dollars and sense – and make decisions that will help our nation in the long run to recover from the recession.