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Statement: Recognize the Value of Medicare and Medicaid at 48

Statement of the National Senior Citizens Law Center:
Let’s Recognize the Value Medicare and Medicaid 

Both Medicare and Medicaid turn 48 July 30. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the programs into law, only half of the nation’s older adults had health insurance of any kind. Now, the vast majority of older adults have health protection through Medicare and Medicaid which pays for the long term services and supports of many low-income older adults.

As we celebrate Medicare’s success, we remain concerned about Congressional efforts to undermine the program under the guise of “reform.”  Medicare is cost-efficient, and proposals to cut benefits or shift costs on to beneficiaries threatens the integrity of the program.  Making reckless cuts to benefits today will not make the Medicare program stronger tomorrow.

Similarly, proposals to block grant Medicaid to the states would gut the program and leave many elders out in the cold. NSCLC believes that constant vigilance is needed as efforts to “reform” Medicare or Medicaid are planned and implemented.

That’s why we have launched efforts to protect the rights of low-income older adults as states and the federal government shift more of the provision of Medicare and Medicaid services to private managed care plans.  We are working diligently with state-based advocates to ensure these transitions lead to better access to care.

Before Medicare existed, older adults often became impoverished trying to handle health care costs. Medicare has made it possible for millions to live knowing that a lengthy hospital stay, a serious injury or the need for expensive medication will not bankrupt them. Medicaid has been a similar lifeline for millions needing long term services and supports.

Let’s celebrate the anniversary of both programs by recognizing how valuable they are to the health of our nation’s older adults and understanding that the majority of Americans do not want cuts to either.

The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all.

Contact: Vanessa Barrington
510-256-1200 direct

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