BEND, OR -- U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) heard stories of hardship by Central Oregonians during a roundtable discussion in Bend, Tuesday morning. President Trump's proposed budget calls for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid - the federal agency that helps low-income people. Local social service agencies and people helped through them urged the Senator to fight the cuts.
Leif Bamburg, with the group Protect Our Progress, has Cystic Fibrosis and has been on disability since the age of 12. He told Wyden these social services are a lifeline. "These healthcare benefits and these disability benefits are keeping me alive; and these kind of cuts would definitely have a very real impact on my survival. I know that because I've lived it before." Bamburg was kicked off Medicaid when he lived in Texas, years ago. He says he wasn't able to get health insurance or afford medication and his lung capacity during that year went from 100% capability to 40%.
Wyden says two-thirds of the people helped by Medicaid have jobs. "It really tells you something about how, in a country as rich and good and strong as ours, people with Cyctic Fibrosis have got to think about setting up some sort of reserve for the day they won't have healthcare. It just really shows you how the notion that somehow 'nobody's going to get hurt; this is just a bunch of efficiencies' is just not connected to reality." He also told the group a majority of beneficiaries only stay on the program for, at most, a couple of years.
One in four Central Oregonians rely on services that receive funding from Medicaid. Scott Copper, with NeighborImpact
, told the Senator they see different people, each year. "We're already moving people within these programs from needing some help, because of medical situations, loss of a job, loss of a spouse, whatever, into a new chapter in their life. Taking away the support will actually probably reverse the problem, making things worse for longer."
The proposed cuts are part of a move to significantly downsize the federal program.