DENVER -- As lawmakers in Washington debate the future of the Affordable Care Act, people here in Colorado are already preparing for what it could mean for the future of the Medicaid coverage they rely on. They say repealing the current law will mean higher costs and fewer services.
“Medicaid is our safety net,” State Senator Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, told Anne Trujillo on this week’s Politics Unplugged. “I think most people don’t realize that over half of nursing home costs are paid for by Medicaid.”
Senator Aguilar says that the state is only required to pay for nursing home care, but that we currently have a waiver allowing the state to pay for home and community based services.
“Now the threat under the Republican health care plans has been that they would change Medicaid to a per capita cap and basically what that means is that instead of covering whatever it costs us to provide services to our seniors and disabled in their homes, they would cut us off at a certain point,” Aguilar said. “Which means we would likely be forced to cut some of these optional programs like home and community based services.”
Colorado seniors are also concerned about what the future could bring.
“As seniors we cannot afford additional costs,” said Pat Narup, who lives at the Kavod Senior Living Center. “We are on such limited incomes anyway, so we become a burden not only to our family, which most of us are subsidized by our families also, or we are going to become the street people. Most of you are too young to remember the depression days but we had hobos and people who were really hungry and I don’t think that us appearing on the front porch of Mar-a-Lago or someplace like that would make a very pretty site in our beggar clothes.”
Fellow resident Ondalee Cline says she believes if both sides worked together a better solution could be found, but she says that might mean treating lawmakers like kindergartners.
“I think at this point they need to look into themselves and understand that they wouldn’t want to see their mother go through what we go through,” Cline said. "It’s hard enough to live a life as a senior without having the threat of your health care being taken away or the cost so exorbitant we can’t afford it.”
Politics Unplugged airs Sundays at 4:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Denver7.