Friday, June 16, 2017

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

I am concerned about cuts the American Health Care Act (AHCA) would make to Medicaid, cuts that would be in the billions of dollars. Medicaid (in our state known as Maine Care) is a lifeline for millions of Americans. It provides long-term services and support to people of all ages living with disabilities and to middle and low-income seniors. If the AHCA passes and Medicaid is slashed as the legislation proposes, the results will be devastating.

In 2017, 268,000 Mainers received health coverage and long-term services and support through Medicaid. An alarming proposal of the AHCA is that the bill creates a capped financing structure which would affect vulnerable individuals through a “per capita cap.” This spending limit would give Maine a fixed dollar amount, per enrolled Medicaid beneficiary, and would lead to cuts in program eligibility and services. Health care costs would shift to state taxpayers and families, including caregivers. 

Maine is home to approximately 178,000 caregivers whose unpaid caregiving is valued at 2.3 billion dollars annually – a huge savings to the state of Maine. Medicaid supports family caregivers and their loved ones because it pays for many services and community programs that help Mainers age at home rather than in more costly institutional settings. These services include programs such as respite which helps caregivers take a much-needed break. Cutting Medicaid would jeopardize respite as well as other vital programs. We simply cannot expect family caregivers to bear more of a financial or emotional burden than they already do.  

As the nation’s oldest state, Maine’s care needs will only increase. We cannot turn our backs on our most at-risk population. Readers, please call Senator Collins today and let her know that cutting federal Medicaid spending will jeopardize Mainers’ access to the services they need right here at home.  

Jackie Katz
AARP Maine Volunteer Advisory Council

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