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VCIL Goes To Washington To Send Message: Medicaid Matters

Sept 21, 2011

Sarah Launderville, executive director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living, marched on Capitol Hill Sept. 21 to tell Congress why Medicaid matters.

“I’m excited to be representing Vermont at this important event,” Launderville said immediately after the rally. “The majority of people we work with at VCIL are on Medicaid and count on these benefits so they can continue to live independently, purchase needed assistive technology and get back into the work force.”

She was one of more than a thousand people with disabilities, seniors, family members, direct care workers and other allies who gathered in Washington, D.C. for the “My Medicaid Matters” rally.

“We rally together for our voices to be heard as a collective one,” said Launderville, “in fighting a federal attack on a crucial program.”

Members of Congress, including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Medicaid recipients and leaders from various national advocacy organizations addressed the federal budget crisis and its potential to create a recipe for disaster for Medicaid recipients.

Medicaid pays for a wide array of services, including hospital visits, physician and dental expenditures, nursing facilities and family nurse practitioner coverage. It also pays for home care and other services that allow seniors and people with disabilities to live in the community.

Ed Paquin, president of the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights, said, “Here in the richest country in the world all the rhetoric seems to be around cutting budgets. We ask: What sort of society do we want to live in? Will we achieve the equality of opportunity that can only come when we honor the human rights of all, including people with disabilities? All health care costs have risen, but Medicare and Medicaid have made a world of difference for generations of Americans. Let’s not ruin that when we need it the most!”

Bob Kafka of ADAPT of Texas, pointed out that Medicaid is the national safety net for millions of people. He added, “The federal budget debate has largely overlooked the real impact of severe Medicaid cutbacks. This rally is the single major national Medicaid advocacy event this year. Now, at last, we will be in the nation’s capital to be heard in force, to let decision makers know that real budget reform means recognizing that Medicaid matters.”

Thirty national organizations worked together to sponsor the rally.

Bruce Darling of Rochester, N.Y., said, “People are sick and tired of being used as pawns by politicians with ‘austerity fever.’ Our lives are at stake as well as the livelihood of our support workers. The Super Committee and the White House need to listen to what the rest of America needs.”

For more information on the rally, visit