SEIU: Additional Cuts to Medicaid Would Further Endanger African Americans and Latinos Battling Chronic Disease

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 14, 2011.  Dr. L. Toni Lewis, Healthcare Chair of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement after the release of a new report from Families USA detailing how healthcare services funded by Medicaid are essential to African American and Latinos living with serious diseases.

“Today’s report, ‘Medicaid: A Lifeline for Blacks and Latinos with Serious Health Care Needs,’ should signal a warning for members of Congress who voted to approve the Ryan budget that would have all but done away with the lifeline Medicaid provides. It should also serve as wake-up call to members of the congressional “super committee” who may consider additional cuts to Medicaid, while millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans are losing sleep worrying about the healthcare coverage they lost along with their jobs.

“African Americans and Latinos are suffering through the worst of this economic recession and they are paying for it, not just in their pocketbooks, but in the quality of their health. Communities of color suffer from higher rates of chronic disease – including heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and stroke — and die at higher rates from diseases that are preventable.

“Combine these factors with higher numbers of home foreclosures and what we are witnessing is a healthcare version of the ‘perfect storm.’ Additional cuts to Medicaid would mean leave these individuals, as well as seniors and people with disabilities battling for their lives.

“Cuts to Medicaid would not just do greater harm to Latino and African American communities; it would also mean more job losses that our country cannot afford. It is time for Congress to realize that our collective health as a nation is directly connected to the health of our economy.

“This report makes clear that we all need to make our voices heard to protect Medicaid and to ensure that our families, children, and seniors receive the care they need to live healthier lives.”