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Could Government Cuts in Medicaid Affect You?

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RALEIGH — Many elderly and disabled could be getting caught in a federal government squeeze. Congress is considering cutting Medicaid and Supplemental Security Insurance programs.

Wake County Human Services is concerned that the federal government may be cutting some funds that could affect the poor, the elderly and those who are otherwise disadvantaged, by cutting Social Security, Medicaid and the Supplemental Security income.

Mary Nichols, 83, is a resident at Country Club Prime Time. A combination of federal programs provides just enough financing for her care. Without it, she says, she would be lost.

"If they cut [benefits], some people will be out in the street," said Nichols. "They couldn't stay here and they couldn't even stay in their homes if they cut all this stuff."

The cause of concern is the federal government's proposed fiscal year 1999 budget resolution. It calls for deeper cuts in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Insurance and social services block grants.

"If we cut back too much on programs that are literally safety nets for the most vulnerable citizens that we have, people are going to fall through the cracks," says Brian Gunter of Wake County Human Services. "More people are likely to be at risk of becoming homeless. More people are at risk of losing their ability to buy health care coverage."

Because of their concerns, Wake Human Services has drafted a letter they will send to all North Carolina representatives in Washington, D.C. In it, the department addresses the problems that could be caused by loss of these programs, and points out that representatives could approve a program that does not include such cuts.

The budget proposal is currently before a congressional committee and has not gone to the House or Senate yet.