Medicaid is an essential part of America’s safety net and is relied on by many millions of working families, children, and people with disabilities in our country. It helps fund hospitals and doctors that deliver health care to people who would otherwise be unable to pay. Without Medicaid, providers would still have to offer these services; they would just have to absorb the cost, hurting the system overall. Medicaid also provides an economic boost to the states, with the federal government covering most of the costs, pumping millions into state economies.

In Connecticut, Medicaid covers approximately one in five state residents and more than one third of Connecticut children – close to 800,000 people in total. The U.S. House of Representatives in their 2019 budget proposed $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid. A large portion of those covered in Connecticut have pre-existing conditions and these cuts would have a devastating impact on these individuals.

Some of the leadership in the majority party don’t believe in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid because they are “entitlements” even though people have paid for them with regular paycheck contributions throughout their entire careers. The real reason for the cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations that have diminished the tax funds coming into the U.S. Treasury.

Block grant and per-capita cap reforms to the Medicaid program could be devastating to Connecticut. As a state with a high Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and our high per capita income, any changes to the Medicaid program which cap spending would decimate our already-fragile safety net system for our most needy citizens.

People with disabilities have much at stake in the on-going efforts to reduce the deficit in the federal budget. Deficit reduction threatens to reduce vital government services that give many people with disabilities the opportunity to live healthy, independent, and productive lives in their communities. Medicaid allows Connecticut residents with intellectual/developmental disabilities the flexibility to design programs that will work best for them.

For many citizens, Medicaid is an important source of long-term supports and services that enables them to live and work in the community and to avoid costly, segregated nursing homes and institutions. The disability community will be actively involved in the debate over deficit reduction to ensure that the solutions developed do not do harm our most vulnerable citizens.

I would encourage everybody to monitor Medicaid updates, block grants and per-capita cap reforms. It would seem things will be status quo for the meantime with elections looming, but we all know this discussion will come around again and it is important we are well informed.

Ben Davies lives in Bolton.

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