July 30, 2019
New Threats Loom as Medicare and Medicaid Turn 54
Beneficiaries celebrate successful healthcare programs while GOP lawsuit puts coverage and benefits at risk for millions
[COLUMBIA, MO] – Concerned Missourians celebrated the 54th anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare today outside St. Francis House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality that offers meals, shelter, and community for homeless folks in Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler’s district. Speakers included Steve Jacobs of the St. Francis Catholic Worker House, Eric Scott of Mid-Missouri DSA, and Andrew Hutchinson from Missouri Jobs With Justice who shared stories about how these health insurance programs have improved their lives by providing access to quality, affordable services, discussed the potential impact of the Texas v. United States, a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on coverage and benefits, and the need to improve on the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare programs, not dismantle them.
The health coverage of nearly 20 million Americans, including 169,000 Missourians and 24,400 of Rep. Hartzler’s constituents is at stake if attacks to repeal the ACA are successful. Additionally, Missouri would lose out on $1.16 billion in federal health care dollars. Thirty-seven states, including the District of Columbia, recognized the need for access to health care and expanded Medicaid for 17 million people. Missouri is one of 14 states that has refused to fully implement the ACA through expanding eligibility for Medicaid. In Missouri, 219,000 people would be eligible if our legislators expanded Medicaid.
The Texas lawsuit seeks to overturn the ACA based on changes to the law’s individual mandate in President Trump’s 2017 tax law. Those changes paid for over $300 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations but also resulted in higher premiums and an increased number of uninsured people.
“Our current political leaders are taking health care in the wrong direction,” said Eric Scott, Co-Chair Mid-MO DSA. “Instead of strengthening and expanding the nation’s most popular and effective programs, all we have seen in the last two years is attack after attack on health care in Congress, the states, and the courts. Lawmakers need to stop playing political games with Medicaid and Medicare, and instead focus on lowering prescription drug prices for everyone, and making sure everyone has access to affordable health care.”
“Right now, because of Missouri’s incredibly cruel eligibility levels for Medicaid, our homeless neighbors are often left without access to health care coverage. Expanding Medicaid as the ACA intended is the best chance for more of our neighbors to finally get the medical care they need,” said Steve Jacobs, founder of the St. Francis Catholic Worker House. “The Republican lawsuit, which Missouri has signed on to, not only threatens the coverage so many Missourians depend on, but could completely remove hope for homeless Missourians to access affordable health care coverage.”
The Texas v. United States lawsuit follows repeated efforts to repeal the ACA in Congress and President Trump’s 2020 federal proposal to cut over $700 billion out of Medicaid and the ACA as well as $582 billion from Medicare despite polls that continue to show health care is the most important issue to 2020 voters. Polling also shows strong support for protecting and expanding Medicaid and Medicare and majority support among both Republicans and Democrats for candidates who will lower prescription drug prices.
“Medicaid and Medicare have improved life for countless families over many generations, have helped support state budgets and health care providers including rural hospitals and clinics and many others,” said Andrew Hutchinson, Mid-Missouri Organizer with Missouri Jobs with Justice. “We should celebrate and invest in these pillars of our healthcare system, not worry about persistent partisan attacks that would take Medicaid and Medicare coverage from millions. It is time politicians put the healthcare and well-being of constituents first by protecting and expanding Medicaid and Medicare so that we have even more to celebrate next year.”
Missouri Jobs with Justice is a statewide grassroots coalition building transformative power for social, racial, and economic justice. Our individual and organizational members come together to hold decisionmakers accountable and to build a Missouri where opportunity exists for all regardless of race, identity, income, or immigration status. Follow our work at https://www.facebook.com/MissouriJobsWithJustice/ or www.mojwj.org