SEIU Members and Disability Rights Advocates Tell Congress “My Medicaid Matters!”

Our union’s home care workers provide lifesaving care to seniors and people with disabilities every single day around the country. They’re on the front lines of personal care and know all too well how cutting and gutting Medicaid will affect their consumers, their families and simultaneously cost hardworking people good jobs — jobs that cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas to other countries.

Folks have had about enough of the blatant disrespect the threat to gut Medicaid is toward our most vulnerable citizens–and the workers caring for them. It is for this reason that more than 40 home care members from 10 different states joined forces with disability rights advocates and allies today to participate in a “My Medicaid Matters” rally on Capitol Hill.

And the fight didn’t end there: Our members then went off to meet with the staff of 16 Senators, including members of the “super committee.”

When Gilda Brown, a home care worker from Chicago, had the chance to talk with some of the Senate staff, she drilled home how important Medicaid Matters with a story from a “normal day” of work for her:

“The woman I care for has sickle cell anemia and relies on me for everything. One day in the middle of the winter the furnace caught on fire, “Don’t leave me here,” she said, “Don’t let me die.” After instructing her to call 911, I ran down into the basement and began smothering the fire.”

Can you imagine how this day would have ended if Gilda was not there for her client? Cuts to Medicaid, as being proposed, would force her client to pay out of pocket for homecare – if she could afford to pay for homecare. If she couldn’t afford the care, however – what happens then?

Home care worker Julia Newton, member of SEIU Local 5, became a personal care attendant because of her son Antoine, who is autistic and needs around-the-clock care. Julia is also in town to participate in the important Why Medicaid Matters campaign.

Julia shared the story of Antoine being on the urgent waiting list for a Medicaid waiver for 10 years.

“Together with my fellow homecare workers, we led a campaign in the Virginia legislature to add more people in critical need of homecare services to our Medicaid program,” she said. “My son is one of the new lucky recipients, but there are thousands of Virginians who are still on the Medicaid waiting list who are not so lucky. This isn’t right!”

It’s time we get Congress to think long and hard about our seniors and neighbors with disabilities. We need to Congress to consider that cutting Medicaid would also eliminate millions of jobs the homecare and long term care industry currently employs.

Will you make yourselves heard with Gilda and Julia? Click here to take action to protect Medicaid now.

View photos from today’s action on Flickr here.

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