Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–August 10, 2015. This year marks the 50th anniversaries of Medicare and Medicaid and the 80th anniversary of Social Security. Fifty-seven percent of people on Medicare, 70 percent of adults on Medicaid and 56 percent of Social Security recipients (66 percent of those over 85) are women. Together, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide critical health and financial security.
Here are my top 10 reasons why I love them — and why I am committed to protecting and expanding them for my granddaughters (and grandsons).
#1: Financial security in retirement. Women live longer than men and need Social Security’s guaranteed, lifetime and inflation-adjusted benefits. Two-thirds of women rely on Social Security for more than half of their income and one third of women rely on it as their ONLY source of income.
#2: Getting a healthy start in life. Medicaid pays for almost half of all births and provides mothers with access to pregnancy-related and postpartum care services.
#3: Lifting millions of women out of poverty. Social Security lifts nearly nine million women above the poverty line. Without it, nearly half of women 65 and older would be living in poverty.
#4: Affordable access to preventive services. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid (and private insurance) provide women with access to a full range of preventive services — like cancer and diabetes screenings — without cost-sharing.
#5: Providing access to family planning. Medicaid is the largest source of family planning care, allowing women to make decisions that protect their health and their family’s well-being.
#6: Helping women navigate chronic health problems. Forty-nine percent of women 65 and older, live with three or more chronic conditions, compared to 38 percent of men. Medicare and Medicaid provide help in managing multiple physical and behavioral health problems.
#7: Financial support for disabled women. 4.4 million women receive Social Security disability benefits. Fifty-eight percent of them relied on their earned benefits for 75 percent or more of their personal income.
#8: Access to long-term care services and supports. Medicaid is the largest purchaser of long-term care services. Women receive 66 percent of home health care services and are 70 percent of the nursing home population.
#9: Access to prescription drugs. Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicaid provide critical access to medications to manage and improve health. The Affordable Care Act is lowering Medicare costs — saving more than two million women in Part D plans over $1 billion in one year alone.
#10: Reducing disparities. As my colleague Rep. Robin Kelly (the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust) has written, “From the desegregation of health delivery centers to the improvement of overall health outcomes, Medicare and Medicaid have been critical in reducing health disparities in the African-American community.” (Roll Call, Aug 4, 2015, Medicare and Medicaid: Achieving Health Equity in America.)