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Medicaid Cuts Hurt African-Americans, Latinos Most of All

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Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer –

Major cuts to Medicaid would have a disproportionately harsh effect on African-Americans and Latinos, according to a new report released recently by a coalition of major health, civil rights and consumer groups.

The report, "Medicaid: A Lifeline for Blacks and Latinos with Serious Health Care Needs," reveals that making cuts to Medicaid fails to reduce costs, instead it shifts the burden to states, families, hospitals and the uninsured. In fact, in some cases, the report notes, cutting assistance for treatment can actually increase costs over the long run.

"As policymakers consider sharp cutbacks in the Medicaid program, this report brings an important potential consequence of their actions to the table – that cutting Medicaid will likely hit hardest at communities of color and, in particular, those who depend on the program to manage and treat their chronic illnesses," said Ralph B. Everett, president and CEO of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Among African -Americans, according to the report's findings, those relying on Medicaid for ongoing medical treatment amount to more than one in five individuals with cancer (21.9 percent, an estimated 141,000 people), nearly one in four diabetics (24.4 percent, 778,000), well over a third of chronic lung disease sufferers (37.0 percent, 1.4 million), and more than one in five who suffer from heart disease or have had a stroke (21.6 percent, 1.9 million).

For Latinos, those relying on Medicaid include nearly one in four who have cancer (24.5 percent, or nearly 105,000 people) , more than one-quarter of diabetics (25.6 percent, 692,000), nearly two in five chronic lung disease patients (39.8 percent, 1.4 million), and nearly a quarter of those being treated for heart disease or stroke (23.2 percent, 1.4 million).

"There are critical disparities in the delivery of health care to black and Latino communities, which contributes to a higher incidence and greater severity of chronic and serious health conditions in those communities," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "That medical reality, combined with the fact that these communities tend to have lower incomes, means that Medicaid is a vital lifeline in protecting the health and well-being of these Americans."

Families USA, The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the American Diabetes Association, the American Lung Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Council of La Raza, the National Medical Association, and the National Urban League Policy Institute collaborated to produce the report.

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