BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Posts Tagged ‘Medicaid’

Why Social Security Must Be Protected

Posted by egehl on July 22, 2011

The word “budget” seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, especially in the halls of Congress.

Every day there are new twists and turns to the never-ending budget and debt ceiling debacle.   The debt crisis our country faces will impact each of us as Congress makes decision to slash trillions of dollars away from vital programs and services that impact every facet of our society.  In order to address the looming federal deficit, legislators have proposed cutting social safety net programs to reduce spending. 

Programs big and small are on the chopping block, however the bigger ones such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare are the big goliaths that everyone is afraid of touching, but know it has to be done.  The problem is that if poor decisions are made about these important programs now it could be devastating for years to come, especially for women.

Various proposals are swirling around, and many could be quite scary for our seniors.  For example, Social Security benefits could be deeply cut by increasing the full retirement age above 67, possibly to 70, and reducing the Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA) by switching to the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI).  Unfortunately using the “chained CPI” would cut benefits for everyone immediately and would cumulate over time, so that those who live the longest would suffer the deepest cuts.

Social Security is essential for older women’s economic well-being.  Women disproportionately depend on Social Security because their life expectancy is five years longer than men, they rely more on survivor benefits, they are less likely than men to have income from their own pensions, and because women have lower earnings on average across their lifetime they benefit from Social Security’s generous benefits to lower earners.

Women who are most economically vulnerable, including those with disabilities, live alone or have limited means, face the greatest risk as a result of these proposed cuts.  They face hurdles to gain financial stability on their own because many women cannot find employment at older ages, do not have pensions, and have been unable to save sufficiently because of wage discrimination and time taken out of the paid workforce for care-giving.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations has launched a new initiative to call on Congress to RESPECT women, PROTECT Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and REJECT any budget plans that threaten the economic security of women.  The goal of this campaign is to get the message across to key lawmakers that budget decisions should not be made at the expense of vulnerable women.

My mother is a perfect example of the critical need for Social Security.  I distinctly remember when she turned 65, a year after she was widowed and two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown, and she lost her job because of the storm.  She and I repeatedly said how thankful and lucky we were that the timing of her birthday coincided with that hard year otherwise the devastation to our home, on top of her job loss, could have put my family in financial straits.  I can’t imagine what we would have done if we had to wait another 5 years until she turned 70 for her to begin receiving benefits.

My mother stayed at home while I was growing up and didn’t starting working full-time until I was in highschool, and never made a great salary.  Therefore her Social Security benefits were fairly dismal and she was thankful she could receive my father’s benefits.  Over the past 6 years Social Security has been at the heart of my mother’s income and given her the means to stay in the home I grew up in, and have the modest lifestyle she wants and deserves.  Therefore I have seen firsthand how Social Security is truly a lifesaving foundation for older woman, and must be protected.

The reality is that our country needs to tighten its belt.  And all of us will have to make some level of sacrifice to make that happen.  However there are common sense ways to accomplish these goals without causing undue detriment to our citizens susceptible to hardship.  I just hope our leaders heed that warning.

Posted in Advocacy, Baby Boomers, Economy, Financial Security, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Respect, Protect and Reject

Posted by YWM on July 13, 2011

Business and Professional Women’s Foundation has joined The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) in a campaign to support women in the current economy.  Join us as we call for Congress to RESPECT women, PROTECT Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and REJECT any budget plans that threaten the economic security of women.

Very soon, members of Congress will reach an agreement on how to reduce the federal deficit. As much as $4 trillion could be cut from the federal budget over the next decade. These cuts will touch upon virtually every program that serves and employs women. Currently, some negotiators are refusing to accept new taxes to raise revenues as part of the package, which could result in deep benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and an array of other critical safety net programs. The economic well-being of women, communities or color, persons with disabilities, low-income earners and their families are at stake.

Negotiators have a deadline to create an agreement and then to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2. We have a deadline, too; we have to step up the pressure on Congress now. We also have to make sure that Congress does not sell us out in a bad deal. We are not willing to allow women to be robbed to pay for the vacation homes and multi-million dollar bonuses for millionaires and billionaires.

BPW Foundation and all NCWO members are making sure that women are respected and heard in these negotiations. We must assure that programs which disproportionately serve and employ women are protected. Any effort to undercut these programs must be rejected.

Here’s what you can do NOW:

Sign our petition by clicking on this link
http://respectprotectreject2012.org

Posted in Economy, Families, Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Debunking the So-Called “Louisiana Purchase”

Posted by egehl on March 19, 2010

If you don’t mind, please allow me the opportunity for a small rant.  It’s personal to my state, but because it has gotten incredibly drug through the mud by the national media and there’s a misconception it was included in the healthcare reform bill as “an unwarranted back room deal” I need to debunk the perception of the “Louisiana Purchase”.

I understand why the public is upset by “special deals” made by a few Senators including my own in the healthcare bill.  However what people don’t understand is that the so-called “Louisiana Purchase” is money desperately needed in my state because of a faulty federal formula that is out of our control, and penalizing the financial health of Louisiana.

As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Louisiana received federal disaster aid to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  As a result, our economy was artificially inflated by the influx of billions of dollars of temporary, one-time hurricane relief monies.

Unfortunately these hurricane recovery funds are now having the unintended consequence of dramatically decreasing our state’s match rate for federal Medicaid funding, also known as FMAP. 

Every state receives a FMAP rate which determines how much the federal government will give that state in Medicaid funding.  The agency responsible for determining the average incomes for Medicaid matching purposes, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) in the Department of Commerce, looks at a state’s average per capita income to calculate the rate.  The rate is different for each state depending on each state’s income levels so poorer states receive a higher match. 

Unfortunately the last calculation of Louisiana’s average income included recovery monies therefore in the federal government’s eyes our state has a higher per capita income because of recovery dollars, which are now dwindling away.  The change in our FMAP rate is ironic given Louisiana is one of the poorest states in the nation, and needs Medicaid assistance desperately for our large impoverished population. 

All policymakers in Louisiana, including Republicans and Democrats, have been extremely concerned about FMAP and how it will impact our state budget.  Starting next year Louisiana will face a massive decline in federal Medicaid funding over and above what other states are dealing with because our state’s match rate will decline.

Louisiana faces the loss of an estimated $1.3 billion in federal Medicaid funding in state fiscal years 2011 and 2012, with an on-going, annualized deficit of almost $900 million. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) has announced that, if forced to absorb this level of funding reduction, it will have to reduce or eliminate critical programs serving the needs of Louisiana’s most vulnerable populations.  In addition, up to125,000 children from low and moderate-income families could lose their health insurance currently provided under Louisiana’s LaCHIP program.

Bipartisan stand-alone legislation has been introduced in Congress to change the FMAP formula, but it has not moved forward.  And this issue will not just impact Gulf Coast states, but any state that receives significant federal disaster relief dollars so it’s a national problem. 

With this impending deficit looming over Louisiana, Senator Landrieu included $300 million in the healthcare reform bill so that our most vulnerable populations wouldn’t fall through the cracks in the coming years.  This was not to fund a pet project, but to keep our state budget solvent so that critical health and human services would not be cut.  Our state’s inability to afford offering Medicaid to the same number of citizens because of less federal funding will impact thousands of women and their children. 

I hope everyone will think differently about the “Louisiana Purchase” and realize this was for the health and well-being of my state, not to showcase a backroom deal.

Posted in Advocacy, Families, Health, Politics, Worklife Balance | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »