Minnesotans’ commitment to caring for one another — especially the sick, the disabled and children — is a value threatened by the U.S. House and Senate’s proposed dramatic cuts to Medicaid and caps on spending to the tune of $800 billion dollars. In just the first 18 months of implementation, $2 billion in cuts would affect Minnesotans accessing the program and our entire state. We all should be concerned.
Medicaid benefits all of us. Even if you’re not a child with cerebral palsy, a working parent earning minimum wage, or a retired engineer who spent all of your assets on nursing home care and Medicaid is your lifeline, you reap the benefits of the program that more than 50 years ago promised the Minnesota value of caring for the most vulnerable.
The cuts to Medicaid would impact our entire health care system. Medicaid keeps the doors open at rural and community hospitals and clinics, providing access to care for all community members. Medicaid creates stable jobs for your neighbors who provide high-quality care. Medicaid drives down health care costs by reining in losses from uncompensated care. Medicaid is the health care safety net for all workers in case of job loss or unforeseen disability due to accident or injury.
Importantly, Medicaid also benefits our babies and our children whose health and development is critical to the future of our state. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, 45,000 more Minnesota children have health insurance – a historic increase of nearly 60 percent. This increase was across races, ethnicities and geographic regions of the state, was even greater in many rural Minnesota counties, and was driven by increased access and participation in Medicaid, called Medical Assistance (MA) in Minnesota.
Improved child outcomes
One-third of all Minnesota children are covered by Medical Assistance, including nearly half of all babies born in Minnesota. Families with children make up 64 percent of total MA enrollment in the state, and are cost effective to cover since they only account for 24 percent of the MA expenses. Moreover, research has demonstrated that the program reaps long-term cost savings in improved child outcomes not only in health, but in increased academic success, improved behavior, and increased college entrance and degree attainment. We can’t afford to cut Medicaid because its benefits are too vital to the success of our children.
Minnesotans’ ingenuity and commitment to caring for one another has made us a leader in providing access to health coverage and care for all our citizens, especially our children. We can’t let these proposed cuts get in the way of this commitment, so we must all take action to protect Medicaid.
Minnesotans must contact their U.S. representatives and senators now and ask them to protect Medicaid and urge their family and friends in other states to do so as well. Our collective future health depends on it.
Bharti Wahi is the executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN). Dr. Mike Severson is a pediatrician, CDF-MN Advisory Board chair, and former president of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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