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Another Voice: Medicaid helps Americans across all demographics

By Dennis Graziano

Medicaid is the backbone of health coverage for over 74 million Americans. Nearly 20 million of them receive services through safety net health plans such as YourCare Health Plan. Medicaid is not a distant program that benefits any one group of people – it helps Americans across all demographics – racially, economically and generationally. Medicaid is us.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has put millions of jobs at risk with its counterproductive gutting of Medicaid proposed under the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which would move America’s health care system – and our entire economy – in a dangerous and harmful direction. The Senate bill will phase out Medicaid coverage for millions of Americans, threatening the viability of the Medicaid system through underfunded per-capita allotments.

Medicaid isn’t welfare. It benefits working Americans.

Almost 60 percent of adults with Medicaid are working. Nearly half work for small businesses (under 50 employees). Medicaid is essential for hardworking Americans to keep their jobs.

It helps people manage their chronic illnesses – so they can keep working.

It is critical to supporting drug rehabilitation programs to counter the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation – so these people can get well, and get back to work.

Nearly two-thirds of older and disabled Americans rely on Medicaid to help pay for nursing homes and care, lifting a burden from their family members – so they can continue to work.

In state after state – including New York – we see evidence of the benefits of Medicaid for people from all walks of life, and the economic and job security that Medicaid coverage brings.

Throughout President Trump’s campaign and administration, he has promised that, “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

Millions of these “forgotten” Americans are able to work only because they have Medicaid.

At YourCare Health Plan, we’ve joined “Medicaid is us,” a campaign to support Medicaid, because we feel a moral obligation to the patients we serve to help them maintain access to quality, affordable health care. However, we also feel a responsibility to make this case in a civil, dignified manner that respects legitimate differences of opinion about health care policy in America. Name-calling and finger-pointing gain us nothing. That is why we have focused on the impact of Medicaid on job creation and economic well-being.

At every point in our lives, Medicaid is there to ensure that we and our loved ones have the health security needed to maintain our economic security. Medicaid belongs to everyone and benefits everyone. In this debate, there is no “us and them.” There is only us.

Dennis Graziano is president and CEO of YourCare Health Plan of Buffalo.

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