|Peter and Kaari at Senator Gardner's Denver Office|
Last week, Peter Severson who serves as the Director for the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Colorado, and I journeyed to downtown Denver to Senator Cory Gardner’s office to speak about the new Senate healthcare bill that was released that morning. Although Peter hadn’t been able to read all 140 pages of the bill that morning (understandably), he had read a variety of summaries that allowed him to have a basic understanding of what the bill proposed. The bill has severe cuts to the Medicaid program, and also puts a cap on the total benefits a person can receive from Medicaid in their lifetime. Once the limit is reached, that person can no longer receive benefits. In short, under the proposed bill, Medicaid would no longer be a guaranteed benefit.
In Peter’s words:
The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) would cut federal Medicaid spending by half in ten years, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
But the funding cut is not the most alarming part of these policy proposals. The BCRA would also shift Medicaid from a guaranteed benefit to a fixed—and much smaller—pot of money for the people eligible for the program. The overwhelming share of the burden of this change would impact seniors, children and people with disabilities.
|Peter speaking to Sen. Garner's Receptionist|
This is not reform. This is an effort to undermine a program that serves the most vulnerable Coloradans. Nationwide, Medicaid covers two-thirds of seniors in nursing homes, 39 percent of American children and over ten million people with disabilities. In Colorado alone, 600,000 people rely on Medicaid for health care services and support.
The fate of Medicaid in Colorado—and the seniors, children and people with disabilities who rely on the program—is now in the hands of the Senate. Senator Cory Gardner is one of those who worked to write the Senate proposal, and we urge him and Senator Bennet to reject any proposal that cuts or caps Medicaid funding.
As Lutherans, we believe that health is central to our well-being, vital to relationships, and helps us live out our vocations in family, work, and community. That is why it’s so important to protect health care access among the most vulnerable of our neighbors. Healthy neighbors are what
build healthy communities for everyone.
However, Peter and I weren’t alone in our visit to Senator Gardner’s Office. In fact, there was an initiative to have advocates at all eight of Senator Gardner’s offices in Colorado. Lutherans even showed up at Senator Gardner’s office in Yuma, CO! Shelly Griffith (the CEO of Eben Ezer Lutheran Care Center in Brush) and Deacon Ro Fesser made a trip to Yuma to advocate for people’s health. Pastor Dan Hays and his wife Kelly also made a separate trip.
Deacon Ro Fesser wrote the following about her visit:
Both Shelly and I went to the Yuma office today at 12:30 pm. We had a pleasant visit. Shelly left the Lutheran Services in America information sent to Shelly this week. We are a member of that group.
We provided the information of our actual case numbers who are on Medicaid: 85 skilled nursing, 38 in assisted living, 130 in our home health services (7 counties), and at least a dozen in our HUD housing. We also shared we have a number of young disabled people in their 50's, roughly a dozen to whom we are providing skilled care who have suffered MS, strokes, or accidents. Additionally we talked about the early hospital releases that now require 24 hour IVs.
We were asked about the additional training necessary for nurses or the upgraded nursing levels we must employ to offer that kind of care.
While we don’t get to vote on the laws our representatives make, we always have our voice. No matter what your political leaning, I encourage you to reach out to representatives and make your voice heard!
-Kaari the Intern