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Medicare and Medicaid 47 years later: still working for N.C.

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Raleigh residents celebrate Medi-birthdays

On Friday, July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Social Security Act of 1965, creating Medicare and Medicaid. Forty-seven years later, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are still working for the people of North Carolina.

Marking the 47th birthday of Medicare and Medicaid, the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans members, leaders and community activists celebrated yesterday the programs’ successes and released a new report detailing the impact of these programs on state residents.

The new report details the success of these programs for North Carolina and the nation. Did you know that Medicare insured 1 out of ever 7 North Carolina residents in 2009 - 1.4 million people - or that 1 out of 5 beneficiaries in our state were people with disabilities?

Medicaid is just as essential to our state, providing care for 1.8 million residents in 2009, half of whom were children. In fact, for 42.7% of children in North Carolina, Medicaid is their sole source of health insurance. Long-term caregivers should take note - Medicaid provided $3.4 billion to cover the cost of home health care, nursing homes, and more.

In addition to documenting North Carolina residents affected in various congressional districts and its counties and how many dollars flow into these economies in a year, the report also presents the stories of hard-working North Carolinians, like Ann Young of Raleigh.

Ann Young is thankful every day of her life for Medicare and Social Security. Ann suffered from a small pea size benign brain tumor, the operation and treatment cost over $100,000. Medicare paid 80% of the total and her supplemental insurance took care of the rest. Ann is cured and her recovery is a success, thanks to Medicare!

“Medicare is important to all seniors and they are entitled to have courage.” --Ann Young, NCARA Executive Board Member

“We will fight hard to ensure the continued benefits currently guaranteed by Social Security and Medicare," NCARA President Jim Moore told those, including Congressman David Price, who attended the celebration. "We will not allow benefits to be reduced."

Click here to watch video of Congressman David Price's remarks celebrating the birthday of Medicare and Medicaid.

These programs, like our highway system, are a solid foundation that keeps working in good times and bad. Attendees expressed concern for the wellbeing of future generations and a dedication to keeping the programs strong.

Cut cake, not benefits

On Thursday, our friends and allies at Action NC held a similar celebration in Charlotte, where folks gathered to share cake and stories about how Medicare, Medicaid, and the new Affordable Care Act (aka, 'Obamacare') have personally benefited their families.

Medicaid - like Medicare - is an essential part of the social safety net in the United States, such that it is. In its most recent report about Medicaid, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that "Two-thirds of Medicaid benefit spending is attributable to seniors and people with disabilities."

"For me," said Luis Rodriguez with Action NC, "the thought of living in the most prosperous nation in history runs contrary to the idea that seniors and those with disabilities, those with the least ability to pay for healthcare and the most need, should be forced to foot the bill."

"Yet that's exactly what those who want to slash these programs, and who are vying for our votes this November, are saying.  They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program, cut Medicaid in half, and reduce Social Security - and create huge holes in the safety net protecting us all.  The average American lives two paychecks away from poverty, away from needing these programs.  According to that same study, between 2008 and 2009, Medicaid enrollment rose by 79% over the norm.  Average, working families need these programs."

Action NC took their message - and these reports - directly to GOP Campaign Headquarters in Charlotte, where Republicans received them with less than the usual Southern hospitality. No matter, as Luis summed it up, their message - our message - is this:

"To those who would cut these life-saving programs and send millions of people into financial ruin or worse, we say, 'No!  Cut Cake, Not Benefits!'"

Cut cake, not benefits!