On July 12th, over 250 people joined with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Al Franken of Minnesota and Claire McCaskill of Missouri to highlight the important role Medicaid plays for seniors, kids, families and America and to decry recently proposed cuts to the critical program. The Alliance for a Just Society worked with Caring Across Generations, PICO, Campaign for Community Change, Community Catalyst, and Health Care for America Now! to make this event a success.
There was standing room only at the event, as hundreds of people from across the country came out to send a clear message to Congress that Medicaid cuts must not be a part of a deficit reduction deal. The crowd, a mix of faith leaders, home care givers and recipients, and other community members, waved signs – Medicaid Matters for Kids, Medicaid Matters for Parents, Medicaid Matters for Seniors, Medicaid Matters for America, and Medicaid Matters across Generations – the messages in bold orange and blue for Senators and the media to see.
Arlene Holt Baker, Vice President of the AFL-CIO, emceed the event with Reverend Heyward Wiggins, Co-Chair of the PICO National Network. Community members from across the country shared their personal experiences with Medicaid: a grandmother from California shared how it saved the life of her premature granddaughter and kept her family from bankruptcy; an emergency room doctor from New York highlighted its role in keeping people healthy and out of the ER for unnecessary illnesses; and, a woman with a disability from Texas spoke of how she is able to stay in her home because of the care she receives through Medicaid. Senators Whitehouse, Franken and McCaskill affirmed their support for the program and committed to share the message of the event with fellow Members of Congress.
After the town hall meeting ended, nearly 50 people visited Senator Harry Reid’s office to deliver a poster-sized card signed by hundreds of community members thanking him for his ongoing support of Medicaid and asking him to continue to be a defender of the program in budget negotiations. As the federal budget debate rages on, we need all of our Senators to be a champion for Medicaid and the millions of children, seniors, and people with disabilities who rely on the program.