Operators join march against possible Medicaid cuts

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Senior living executives joined hundreds of demonstrators and several lawmakers opposed to Medicaid funding cuts during a rally this week at the U.S. Capitol.

The LeadingAge co-sponsored event was part of a nationwide campaign to protest a potential $800 billion in Medicaid cuts and “protect the lives of people with disabilities.” The funding reductions would come if a House-passed healthcare reform bill makes it through the Senate.

“[Medicaid block grants] are a Trojan horse for more budget cuts, and we're not going to let them happen!” yelled Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) into a megaphone to a growing lunchtime crowd.

“This diverse group of people gets to the core reason we have a Medicaid program,” LeadingAge Vice President of Legislative Affairs Marsha Greenfield, who attended with a handful of association colleagues, told McKnight's. “They're all affected by Medicaid cuts.

“These folks are in our facilities, or in our home- and community-based services programs, and they're liable to be in our facilities at some point. It's important for members of the Senate, and the House, to see how deeply this affects people.”

The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living also protested potential Medicaid cuts and focused heavily on lobbying Republican senators away from them during its annual congressional fly-in event Monday and Tuesday. That event attracted a record 450 members from around the country who visited virtually every key legislators' office during a two-day blitz, organizers said.

AHCA/NCAL President and CEO Mark Parkinson expressed doubt Tuesday that disparate Senate GOP factions could unite to reach the 51 votes needed to pass a health reform bill before Congress' August recess. But he also acknowledged that conventional wisdom, including AHCA's best guesses, had not counted on Republicans claiming the White House and both houses of Congress in last November's election.

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