IDAC Medicaid Letter
July 11, 2011
Dear Member of Congress:
We, the undersigned members of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition and other national religious organizations write to urge you to protect Medicaid from drastic cuts and other harmful changes to the program through such mechanisms as the current Medicaid block grant or global spending cap proposals. We acknowledge the need for the country to address the growing federal debt. However, we believe that any deficit reduction efforts must take into account the importance of Medicaid as a solid foundation for people with disabilities living in the community.
The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC) is a coalition of more than 25 national faith-based organizations, including representatives from the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu traditions, with a mission of mobilizing the religious community to speak out and take action on disability policy issues with Congress, the President and Administration, and society at large. IDAC is a diverse, nonpartisan coalition of religious and religiously affiliated organizations whose core spiritual values affirm the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
The shared values of our faiths lead us to support policies and programs that promote independence and dignity for people with disabilities so they can continue contributing to their communities and congregations. Medicaid is one such program. Medicaid provides critical health coverage to 8 million individuals with disabilities and is often the only source of comprehensive coverage that addresses the health care and long-term service needs of people with disabilities. Medicaid is a lifeline for millions of Americans with disabilities and a vital public health program for seniors, children, and low-income Medicare beneficiaries who rely on Medicaid to fill Medicare’s gaps.
Current proposals to drastically cut Medicaid spending through block grants or global spending caps would jeopardize this critical health care system and the lives and well-being of its beneficiaries. Under proposals which drastically cut funding for Medicaid, states would have no choice but to sharply restrict enrollment, eligibility and benefits for populations they currently serve. Many individuals who currently qualify for Medicaid could end up uninsured, thus compounding current problems of overflowing emergency rooms and increased healthcare costs in an overburdened system. In addition, states would be unable to respond during challenging economic times when more Americans need to access Medicaid supports.
Medicaid spending cuts and block grant proposals would have a particularly devastating effect on the provision of long-term care services, as Medicaid is currently the primary funding stream for these services. More than 3 million Americans are currently covered by long-term services, and demand is projected to significantly increase in coming decades with the aging of the U.S. population. A loss of long-term services—at the very moment when the need is rising—could make individuals more dependent on the unpaid support of family caregivers or lead to unnecessary institutionalization. We strongly oppose public policies that lead to such unnecessary institutionalization because it severs individuals from society, greatly limiting their ability to contribute economically, socially, politically and spiritually. Any decisions about Medicaid funding or the structure of the program should take into consideration the ability of people with disabilities to live healthy, independent lives. We oppose spending cuts and harmful changes such as the proposed block grants that would undermine human dignity by limiting the choices and opportunities for older adults and people with disabilities.
We are eager to work with you to make sure that deficit reduction strategies and any proposed changes to Medicaid maintain the program’s integrity and enable people with disabilities to continue to be active participants in their communities and congregations. We look forward to participating in conversations about how we as a nation can achieve deficit reduction, while preserving the rights and dignity of older adults and people with disabilities.
African Methodist Episcopal Church Connectional Health Commission
American Baptist Churches USA
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
American Muslim Health Professionals
Association of Jewish Family & Children's Agencies
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Church of the Brethren
Council for Health and Human Service Ministries, United Church of Christ
Disciples Justice Action Network
Disciples Home Missions Family and Children’s Ministries
Faithful Reform in Health Care
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Deaf Muslim
Global Justice Institute
Islamic Society of North America
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Justice and Advocacy Commission of the National Council of Churches
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Metropolitan Community Churches
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Catholic Partnership on Disability
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
The Jewish Federations of North America
The United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries Board
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Family and Children’s Ministries
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Women’s Rabbinic Network
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