9:29 AM Eastern - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Member voices: A real picture of who would be hurt by Medicaid cuts #the-healthcare-law

Currently 14 million seniors, people with disabilities, and their families rely on Medicaid for healthcare coverage. These essential services include home care services, rehabilitation services, and nursing home care. Congressman Paul Ryan's (R- Wisconsin) 10-year budget plan would end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it.

Under the guise of Medicare vouchers, the Republican FY 2012 budget proposal would result in direct payments to insurance companies, shift more costs onto seniors and working families, and result in major reductions in coverage and higher Medicare premiums for seniors.

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PHOTO: Lisa Wriggle, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) from Oregon

More than 460,000 SEIU members provide long term care every day to seniors and people with disabilities. Below, SEIU Local 503 member and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Lisa Wriggle shares her thoughts on how the Republican budget proposal could harm the individuals she cares for every day.

"As a CNA, I know firsthand that we cannot turn our backs on the very people who depend upon Medicaid as their lifeline. Seniors, children, and people with disabilities did not cause our country's financial crisis and they simply will not survive a $1 trillion dollar cut to this essential program.

"I have worked as a CNA for almost 3 years now. Although I make less money than I have my entire life, it is the most rewarding job I have ever held and one that I cherish. Our residents are seniors - who have worked hard their whole lives - and need compassionate, round-the-clock care in their final days. And although it surprises some people to learn this, many of our clients are also young people with disabilities.

"I have had the honor of working with a 27-year-old Iraq War veteran named Allen who started feeling dizzy and disoriented. Allen was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After he had surgery and while in recovery, Allen had a massive stroke and was sent to us in a vegetative state.

"Today, through a lot of hard work and many hours of care, Allen is now standing and walking with help. He is surely on the road to recovery. Without these services, or with less hours dedicated to recovery, patients like Allen won't be given the full opportunity to regain their lives or to live independent lives.

"And many of the seniors and people with disabilities that I care for would be struggling to survive on their own -- or their sons and daughters would be forced to quit their own jobs to care for them.


A real picture of who would be hurt by Medicaid cuts

"I help many of my residents with daily activities that many of us take for granted -- such as bathing, getting dressed, eating, and helping them walk if they are too weak to do it on their own.

"We can strengthen Medicaid. We can improve the way we deliver care, but we cannot turn our backs on our fellow Americans - seniors who have worked hard their entire lives and want to be cared for with dignity and respect. Young soldiers who volunteered to serve our country in a time of war. That's just not right.

"No one wants to see our country in financial trouble. But the people that got us here, big banks and big business, are still not paying their fair share. I would ask Representative Paul Ryan, and every member of Congress, to think about people like Allen before deciding that standing up for the very wealthy is more important than standing up for our fellow Americans."

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