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Program Changes to Medicaid Would Negatively Affect Families, Economy

North Carolina's Medical Care Advisory Committee is on the brink of recommending major programmatic changes to Medicaid in light of deep budget cuts, but a new report states that any changes to the program must be considered carefully in order to maintain this vital social safety net for North Carolina families.

Copyright:(c) 2011 Targeted News Service
Source:Targeted News Service
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RALEIGH, N.C., Oct. 11 -- North Carolina Justice Center issued the following news release:

North Carolina'sMedical Care Advisory Committee is on the brink of recommending major programmatic changes to Medicaid in light of deep budget cuts, but a new report states that any changes to the program must be considered carefully in order to maintain this vital social safety net for North Carolina families.

Medicaid functions as the barrier between thousands of families and financial ruin as they face medical and long-term care bills that far exceed what their income, savings or insurance can cover, according to a report from the NC Health Access Coalition at the NC Justice Center. Medicaid is key to ensuring some measure of financial stability for families, the report said, even those that may not have yet needed the program's services.

The report addresses reasons why Medicaid deserves to be protected from devastating cuts:

Many Medicaid beneficiaries come from middle-class households, including individuals with physical and mental disabilities, victims of catastrophic accidents, and nursing home residents.

Medicaid cuts and the elimination of "optional" services could affect the economic security of thousands of middle-class North Carolina families. Without Medicaid, providing nursing-home care or services for a disabled family member would have major financial and economic consequences for the rest of the family.

Few "savings" could be made in Medicaid without resulting in decreased access to health care. The program has seen recent record growth in eligibility and it's unrealistic to expect the program can continue improving health outcomes and protecting middle-class families with additional cuts.

Medicaid invests in the health and well-being of children and families through its coverage of prenatal and maternity care.

Cutting Medicaid spending at the state level would remove dollars in federal spending from the state's economy. Foregoing federal match dollars for Medicaid would result in thousands of lost jobs and millions of dollars in labor income.

It's crucial that policymakers consider the effect of Medicaid cuts on families as well as health-care providers, children, and the state's struggling economy, the report said.

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"The severe cuts to Medicaid in the current state budget will affect every North Carolinian, regardless of income," said Brenna Burch, a public policy analyst with the NC Budget & Tax Center and co-author of the report. "It has never been more important that the public understand how much of their own financial security is at stake if this program is further dismantled."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Brenna Burch, Public Policy Analyst, NC Budget & Tax Center, 919.856.2176, brenna@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615 (cell).

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