Preserving Healthcare for New Yorkers

This week marks Medicaid Matters “My Medicaid Matters” week in which statewide advocates such as myself are reminding individuals and lawmakers the importance of the Medicaid system and what it has provided for our citizens since its inception , as well as the vital imperative that we maintain this crucial support system. Medicaid is New York safety net health care program, and touches the lives of almost every citizen either as a recipient, a worker, a family member or friend that has or is benefiting from its support.

Medicaid is the only health insurance that pays for long-term care for people with disabilities as well as adaptive equipment like wheelchairs and communication devices. It also covers life-saving medications not covered under many other insurance plans. It supports the transition of people with disabilities out of institutional settings into independent living in the community.

I personally benefited from Medicaid as I transitioned home after a spinal cord injury at which time I needed my house renovated and to have my care coordinated so that I would receive 24-hour personal care (much less costly than nursing home care). These types of services have allowed me and others to live and work in the community as well as pursue further education. Allowing people to live in their own homes with the supports they need, means more job opportunities for more New Yorkers, who in turn pay taxes and spend money at local stores, theaters, restaurants, and other establishments.

Medicaid Matters would like to stress the following budget guidelines while legislators go about their crucial work at the Capitol. The budget must provide-reform to hospital charity care funding, enforcement of hospital finance assistance law, real consumer protection in the implementation of Managed Long Term Care, and the rejection of the proposal to eliminate spousal and parental refusal. Additionally, the budget should enact recommendations of the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) Health Disparities Workgroup (including accessible prescriptions, coverage for harm reduction, maternal and child health initiatives, and data collection and reporting). It is also crucial we establish the creation of a Healthcare Insurance Exchange system. Finally the budget should provide coverage for nutrition products for anyone who needs them, and restore access to physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, compression stockings and orthotics.

These budget guidelines provide a platform for establishing an integrated system of community-based supports and policies that are key to the Independent Living philosophy and to the continued improvement of the lives of individuals with disabilities.

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