Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined northwest Ohio families, patients, and nursing home staff to stand against harmful cuts to nursing homes in the Senate healthcare bill.
Three in five nursing home residents in Ohio rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of their care, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Cuts to Medicaid spending included in the Senate bill will result in an average annual loss to Ohio nursing home facilities of nearly $669,000 each, according to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living.
"These are our parents and grandparents. They are people who worked hard to build good lives for their families and they shouldn't have to lose it all to medical expenses in their later years," said Brown. "Cutting nursing home funding will hurt the patients who depend on it, threaten jobs in our communities and further squeeze working families who are already juggling the expense of raising kids while caring for their aging parents."
Many families will take an extra hit on top of the increased nursing home costs. Ohioans between the ages of 50 and 64 would be charged up to five times more for their own insurance while also helping to care for their elderly parents.
Brown was joined at the news conference by Ms. Emma Oravecz, Mr. Bob Hull, and Ms. Kelly Pedersen, three northwest Ohioans whose parents rely on Medicaid coverage for their nursing home care.
"Medicaid has been a godsend to take care of our mother since our father passed away. Since she has been a resident at Wolf Creek, we have been excited to watch her blossom. Our family truly believes that Medicaid funding is critical," said Oravecz.
"My mother and father worked all their lives. My mother is 95 and receives a pension of only $1500 per month. Medicaid keeps her alive so she is able to spend time with her kids and her grandkids," said Hull.
"My family would be devastated by these proposed cuts to Medicaid. My dad worked in the auto industry and paid into the system over 30 years. Now when he needs it most -- conservatives in Congress want to take it all away. Without Medicaid coverage my dad would be on the streets," said Pedersen.
Brown was also joined by Rick Marshall, President and CEO of Genacross Lutheran Services, which runs several senior care campuses in northwest Ohio.
Medicaid is the largest single payer of costs associated with long-term services and supports (LTSS), which nursing homes provide to patients. The proposed $800 billion cut to Medicaid threatens LTSS payments to providers. These cuts could force staffing and service cuts at Ohio nursing homes, affecting the care nursing home patients receive.
"Seniors who receive Medicaid are the frailest and most financially vulnerable members of our society. Approximately 60 percent of residents in Genacross Lutheran Services' long-term care communities rely on Medicaid to pay for the cost of their services. Severe cuts to the Medicaid program will result in reduction of services that are vital to the health and well-being of our seniors," said Marshall.
As baby boomers age, Medicaid cuts will hit Ohioans particularly hard, as the state's population is older than average. According to an analysis done by the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cuts to Medicaid will deepen right as the number of older Americans will be growing faster than any other demographic.
The bill would also take away a critical tool in combating the opioid epidemic in Ohio, which has hit rural communities particularly hard. The Senate bill would end Governor Kasich's expansion of Medicaid and pass deep cuts to the Medicaid program. Ohio experts have said Medicaid coverage is the state's best tool for getting people into treatment and simply putting more money in the bill without Medicaid won't work without a Medicaid program to get people covered.
According to a Harvard study more than 220,000 Ohioans with addiction or mental health disorders now have coverage under the Affordable Care Act -- 151,257 through the Medicaid expansion and 69,225 under private insurance purchased through the marketplace. Repeal would kick those people off of their insurance, potentially disrupting treatment services for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans as they are fighting for their lives.
The proposed Senate healthcare bill would not only take away coverage for addiction treatment, but it also does nothing to lower costs for Ohioans struggling to afford their premiums or prescription drug costs.
According to the CBO, the Senate bill would increase the number of uninsured by 22 million by 2026. It would also leave 15 million more uninsured next year compared to the Affordable Care Act. It will initially raise premiums by 20 percent next year and result in higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.