American Nurses Association (ANA) President Barbara Blakeney, MS, RN, voiced ANA’s opposition to proposed cuts to the Medicaid budget during testimony at a hearing by a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce on the public health impact of Hurricane Katrina.
Congressional leaders want to cut $10 billion from Medicaid, which provides essential health care coverage for an estimated 51 million Americans.
As Blakeney noted, ANA supports actions Congress has taken to support emergency health care for the one million or more victims of Hurricane Katrina, yet the association remains concerned that congressional leaders are continuing with plans to cut Medicaid funding.
"Short-term emergency money, while vitally important, is not the only answer," said Blakeney. "Now is the time to fully address the health care crisis in this country rather than continuing our ineffective band-aid approach. On behalf of the nation’s nurses, I call upon the Congress to have compassion not only for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but also for the nation’s poor, elderly and disabled, along with the 45.8 million Americans who lack health insurance."
Meanwhile, Mississippi Nurses Association Executive Director Ricki Garrett and several members of Congress spoke out against the cuts at an ANA press conference held at the U.S. Capitol.
Addressing the press conference, Garrett spoke of the devastation in her state, and great need for health care services, including mental health services, to deal with the consequences brought on by Hurricane Katrina.
"Hurricane Katrina has starkly illustrated what real poverty exists in our country today," said Rep. Capps. "To cut holes in the health care safety-net for our fellow Americans in need is unconscionable."
Blakeney noted that the mission of ANA is to convey one simple message – that common sense and compassion should prevail.
"Our nation should provide basic health care services to all persons who require them. The first step in this direction is to abandon plans to cut funding for health care for the medically needy and indigent."