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Why your mother needs Medicaid

Think Medicaid is only for other people? Think again.  As they say, everyone has a mother, and lots of mothers in North Carolina depend on Medicaid throughout their lives.

Because the majority of North Carolina’s Medicaid dollars fund services for elderly individuals and those with disabilities − the majority of whom are women −Medicaid budget cuts and eligibility cutbacks could greatly impact these populations. If states attempted to spare elderly individuals and those with disabilities from eligibility and service cuts, even greater program cuts would be necessary for the remaining adults and children who receive Medicaid. Such cuts would also harm women because they constitute a majority of these remaining adults receiving Medicaid.

Women comprise a majority of elderly individuals who receive Medicaid in North Carolina. 19% of North Carolina’s federal and state Medicaid dollars funded services for elderly individuals in 2007.11 Women made up 72% of these elderly individuals in North Carolina in 2009.  Medicaid pays for personal aides, rehabilitation services, nursing home care and other long-term care services that Medicare does not cover, as well as providing cost sharing for Medicare-covered services.

Nationally, Medicaid paid nearly half of all nursing home expenditures (45%), and 50% of those who benefitted from these expenditures were elderly women, compared to 17% elderly men, in 2004.13 If Medicaid funding is cut, many mothers and grandmothers will lose access to nursing home care or be faced with crushing medical debt if they are able to obtain services at all.

Women comprise a majority of individuals who receive Medicaid on the basis of disability in North Carolina. 46% of North Carolina’s federal and state Medicaid dollars supported services for non-elderly individuals with disabilities in 2007.14 Women made up 53% of these individuals in North Carolina in 2009.  In addition to basic health care services, Medicaid pays for essential supports for women with disabilities such as home health aides, medical supplies and prescription drugs.

Nationally, Medicaid paid for 22% of home health care services in 2007. Overall, women constituted 64% of individuals’ receiving home health services – funded by Medicaid and other funding sources -- in 2007.16 If Medicaid funding is cut, elderly women and women with disabilities will have fewer resources available to help them stay in their homes and communities, which could also increase the need for more expensive institutional care.

Women comprise a majority of non-elderly adults’ receiving Medicaid in North Carolina. 12% of North Carolina’s federal and state Medicaid dollars support services for other non-elderly adults in 2007.17 In North Carolina, 83% of these adults were women in 2009,18 many of them mothers struggling to raise their children in difficult economic times.

Medicaid supports women’s health by paying for regular pap smears, mammograms and other vital preventive health care services. Medicaid supports women of childbearing age with funding for family planning services, prenatal care (including visits and vitamins, ultrasound and amniocentesis screenings), deliveries and 60 days of postpartum care. In North Carolina, Medicaid spending  represented 47% of the public funding for family planning in 2006, or $27 million.20 Medicaid also paid for 51% of births in North Carolina in 2009.

If Medicaid funding is cut, North Carolina women could find it harder to access family planning services, making it more difficult to avoid unintended pregnancies. Women who get pregnant could have less access to prenatal care and supports for safe deliveries, making pregnancy and childbirth riskier for mothers and babies.

Women in North Carolina depend on Medicaid - make sure they can keep depending on it in the future.