The Washington Post published an article today about what could happen to millions of Americans who are on Medicaid once the public health emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic ends. This could be life-changing for thousands of Americans.
Medicaid is a federal and state-funded public health insurance program that has provided health care to low-income families and individuals since its founding in 1965. Medicaid beneficiaries include children, parents, pregnant women, elders, and disabled people.
Within federal limits, each state runs its own Medicaid program. Because the federal requirements are so comprehensive, states have a lot of leeway for establishing and implementing their own programs. As a result, Medicaid eligibility and benefits can, and frequently do, differ significantly from one state to the next.
When the nation’s public health emergency ends, as many as 16 million low-income Americans, including millions of children, may lose Medicaid coverage, as states face the monumental task of sorting out who no longer belongs on Medicaid, a number that has grown to record levels during the pandemic.
I am one of the millions of Americans who are on Medicaid. If I were to lose Medicaid coverage, it could be catastrophic. Medicaid is what pays for my PCA services. PCA services allow me to live in my community rather than in a nursing home. Without my PCA, I wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom, shower, or get dressed. My PCA also helps me with grocery shopping and transportation. My PCAs would be unaffordable without Medicaid, costing over $50,000 per year. I’d go bankrupt just trying to stay alive. Private health insurance doesn’t cover PCA services. Medicaid only covers them.
I receive Medicaid because I’m on SSI, which means that I have to remain eligible for SSI to keep my health coverage. I cannot earn too much money or receive too much financial support. You can be deemed ineligible for Medicaid because you make too much money or have too many assets. Because of this, it is unsurprising that those with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than their nondisabled counterparts.
Medicaid is much more than health insurance for low-income Americans. Cuts to Medicaid would be devastating for millions of Americans, including me. Americans shouldn’t have to face losing services that keep them healthy and, in some cases, alive.
Fessler, Pam. “Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law.” NPR, NPR, 23 July 2015, http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/07/23/424990474/why-disability-and-poverty-still-go-hand-in-hand-25-years-after-landmark-law.
Goldstein, Amy. “Millions of Vulnerable Americans Likely to Fall off Medicaid Once the Federal Public Health Emergency Ends.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 15 Mar. 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/03/14/medicaid-loss-of-coverage/.
Mazie, David M. “Medicare and Medicaid”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 26 Feb. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Medicare-United-States-health-insurance.