Medicaid and Supreme Court nominations were hot discussion topics at a public forum Monday night organized by the Alliance for the Status of Missouri Women.
The event, “Key Issues in Washington,” was held at Stephens College and featured speakers Judy Waxman and Ahaviah Glaser of the National Women’s Law Center.
“The fact that women live longer, earn lower incomes and are more likely to head up a single-parent household than men means that they are disproportionately affected by Medicaid cuts,” said Waxman, who testified earlier in the day in Jefferson City before the Missouri Commission on Medicaid Reform.
Rising health care costs have lead many states, under pressure to balance their budgets, to reform their Medicaid programs.
The federal entitlement program, which matches federal funds to state funds to provide health care to low-income Americans, is in the process of being phased out. Missouri is the only state to set a goal, 2008, to end the program.
“Medicaid is a particularly important program for women, who make up 71 percent of Medicaid recipients nationally,” Waxman said. In Missouri, women and girls make up 58 percent of all enrollees and 43 percent of all births are covered by Medicaid, she said.
Waxman encouraged the participants to contact their representatives at both the state and federal level.
The discussion also touched on topics such as Supreme Court nominations, education and tax reforms. The National Women’s Law Center opposes confirmation of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, citing concerns about his dedication to the right of privacy.
“People need to see that Medicaid, reproductive health, education and employment are all related,” said Kerri McBee, who organized the event.
Alejandra Godino, a fellow at the MU-based Cambio Center, agreed, saying that decreased money for health care will create an underclass of people without the means to educate themselves.
“If you have to work to support the health costs of your mother and your grandmother, how can you also go to school?”
Not all women’s organizations agree with the positions taken by the National Women’s Law Center. National groups such as the Independent Women’s Forum and Concerned Women for America publicly support the Roberts nomination and alternatives to healthcare reform such as the creation of health savings accounts.