Idaho Medicaid Clients Feel Vulnerable in Wake of Debt-Ceiling Deal

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In the midst of high-pitched squabbles over the nation's debt, with plans to cut billions from federal budgetsidaho , the Idaho Community Action Network has a primary goal: to protect Medicaid.

ICAN, along with the Community Council of Idaho and the Center for Community and Justice, co-authored a national report titled, Medicaid Makes a Difference: Protecting Medicaid, Advancing Racial Equity. The groups aim to lobby Idaho's congressional delegation to preserve Medicaid, and to discourage the support of further tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy.

The report details the disparities and barriers to health care that many people of color face. Currently, 232,090 Idahoans access Medicaid, with more than 160,000 younger than 20.

The report chronicles the lives of several Medicaid recipients, including Adan Ramirez of Heyburn, Idaho. Ramirez, 79, is a veteran and a board member for community organizations. He has diabetes, heart problems and suffers from high blood pressure. Ramirez had to have heart surgery and says, “I owe my life to Medicaid.”

Dr. Edward Savala, who works at Clinica Santa Maria in Caldwell, said that cuts to Medicaid would not only hurt his patients' health, it would hurt the community and economy, lowering the overall quality of life.

“The majority of my patients are low-income and Hispanic," said Savala. "Medicaid oftentimes is the only source of health insurance they have.”

With Tuesday's passing of a debt-ceiling deal that potentially cuts trillions from federal programs, ICAN and those that depend on Medicaid urge Congress to make changes,

“It’s time for Senator Crapo to take a stand with real people and real communities. Our lives depend on it,” said Ramirez.

You can read the full report, Medicaid Makes a Difference, here.