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Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Depend on Medicaid

Public Benefits

Pennsylvanians with Disabilities Depend on Medicaid

Date Posted: 
05/10/2017

Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program provides vital safety net coverage for people with disabilities.  More than 40% of Medicaid expenditures in Pennsylvania are used to provide services for people with disabilities.  Medicaid saves lives and provides services that enable people with disabilities to live independently in their communities, obtain an education, or return to work.

In May 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The bill would roll back Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion, while creating per capita caps, or per-person limits, on traditional Medicaid funding that would drastically reduce federal funding for Pennsylvania.  These cuts to Medicaid would put tremendous pressure on Pennsylvania to restrict services, especially for people who have the greatest need, such as people with disabilities and people over 65, who together account for almost three quarters of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid spending.  The bill is now being considered by the U.S. Senate.

Medicaid provides life-saving treatment for people with disabilities. 

Many Pennsylvanians owe their lives to successful treatment of disabling conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and trauma.  Still others have chronic conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, and sickle cell disease that are potentially disabling if not properly treated.

In times of crises, Pennsylvania Medicaid responds to public health emergencies. 

For example, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been largely addressed by the Medicaid program.  Without the availability of Medicaid, many of the 3,800 Pennsylvanians currently living with HIV/AIDS would have died.  Now, Pennsylvania lawmakers are relying on federal Medicaid funding to address the opioid crisis by providing substance use treatment for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

Medicaid reduces institutionalization.  Medicaid provides community based services for people with physical and mental health issues and other behavioral disorders, restoring function and improving social interaction and development. Treatment provided by Medicaid allows people with disabilities to live in the community, rather than being isolated in institutions.

Medicaid covers 45% of Pennsylvania children with disabilities.  By extending Medicaid eligibility to children with serious disabilities, Medicaid provides many of the necessary services that children need, such as special hearing aids, wheelchairs and other assistive devices.  Medicaid helps local school districts provide needed services and provides special wrap-around services for children with mental health challenges.  The House bill would permit states to ration newly-limited Medicaid funding by no longer reimbursing schools with Medicaid dollars for the health services they provide.

Pennsylvania Medicaid has created a cohesive statewide program for behavioral health problems.  Medicaid is often the best, and indeed only, source of comprehensive treatment for many people with behavioral health challenges.  Pennsylvania has used the flexibility inherent in the federal Medicaid program to create a unified health care delivery system that provides needed behavioral health care in a cost efficient manner.

Medicaid provides extra help for 443,500 low income Pennsylvania Medicare beneficiaries who cannot afford the premiums, costs and services, including nursing homes and home and community based long term supports and services, not covered by Medicare.  One in five Pennsylvania Medicare beneficiaries relies on Medicaid for comprehensive coverage. 

Medicaid helps people with disabilities return to work, curing illnesses and restoring function.  Medicaid covers needed services and equipment that helps people become employable, a benefit that private insurance rarely provides.  It also helps people maintain employment, by providing the care they need in order to continue working.

Medicaid covers treatment that saves lives, restores health, and avoids expensive hospitalizations and emergency room care!
Speak out!  Tell your Senators to protect the health of people with disabilities by protecting Medicaid!
Ask them to reject the Medicaid cuts in the House of Representatives’ bill to repeal and replace the ACA.
Contacts:  Senator Pat Toomey – (855) 552-1831 and Senator Bob Casey, Jr. – (866) 461-9159.
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