At the Democratic Party convention in Charlotte, NC where I was this week, former President Bill Clinton defended Medicaid and talked about the dire consequences for the elderly and people with disabilities if Medicaid is block granted as the Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates have pledged.
“If that happens, I don’t know what those families are going to do,” he said. “So I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do everything I can to see that it doesn’t happen. We can’t let it happen.”
I’m happy to report that several speakers spoke to the need for protecting Medicaid and Medicare “as we know it.” However, the former President was one of the few who connected the programs to the poor or their needs.
I had the chance to speak to Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) to voice my concern that programs for the poor like Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are rarely spoken about in this campaign year by either side. Both parties left them out of party platforms.
For advocates who know first-hand what Medicaid, SSI and Older Americans Act programs mean to low-income older adults, there is something you can do. Pigeon hole candidates for office in public forums. Use traditional or social media forums to ask them how they would protect the elderly poor. In discussions with your friends, families and colleagues, share how important these programs are to individuals and to the country as a whole. To paraphrase President Clinton, we need to do everything we can to save these programs.