Houstonians say save Medicaid

Houston Congressman Al Green hosted a forum on the Medicaid cuts that are part of the U.S. Senate health bill that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The forum showcased real-life testimonials from a variety of constituents regarding the importance of keeping Medicaid, and, said Green, as a way to “remind Congress that the U.S. is a participatory democracy.”

“When the people speak, representatives listen,” said Green. “But people have to speak.”

The people certainly spoke during the forum, as representatives from over 12 local groups voiced their displeasure with the Republican majority-authored legislation slated to decimate Medicaid, which currently covers roughly 4 million Texans, of which 70 percent are children.

The other 30 percent covered by the state-based insurance program are the disabled, pregnant women and poor seniors, the vast majority of which reside in nursing homes.

“This bill is bad for the state of Texas,” said Ken Janda, president and CEO of the Houston-based Community Health Choice, an insurance company that manages health care plans catering to low-income families. “One party producing a bill in secret is not the right thing to do. We need a bipartisan effort of bringing people together.”

Representatives from non-profits, insurance companies and healthcare voiced growing national discontent over the Senate bill.

“The killing of Medicaid programs that are life-sustaining for people with significant disabilities is a death sentence to us,” said Maria Palacois, founder of the Houston-based National Women with Disabilities Empowerment Forum.

Jason Jones, born with tumors in both eyes, and who has relied on Medicaid to cover all related treatments, addressed the Senate bill’s secretive process, saying “My message to every senator: nothing about us, without us.”

Chamane Barrow, a healthcare professional whose daughter born with cerebral palsy graduated from college and lives and works independently because of a Medicaid-paid attendant, said Medicaid isn’t just about healthcare, but independence.

“Without [Medicaid] my daughter couldn’t get out of bed,” Barrow said.

Though the Senate’s bill is garnering more attention recently, according to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 20 million people will lose coverage under either the Republican Senate or the Republican House bills.

Find out more about Medicaid at www.DefenderNetwork.com.