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Posted by: In: MCHC News 12 Apr 2017 1 comment

To view this article on WacoTrib.com, please click here.

Bill Gaventa, guest columnist: Why we need Medicaid — you know the people it helps

Medicaid: It’s not just about hospitals and doctor visits. It may be helping you, your neighbor or co-worker.

When most of us hear about Medicaid, we also think Medicare, a health insurance program that helps pay for hospital visits, doctors and other parts of health care. About 28 percent of the time, we would be right.

We also think that it is health insurance for people on welfare, even though the term “welfare” has been outdated for a long time. If by welfare we mean people who receive benefits from the government — well, almost everyone is on some form of welfare, including some of the largest businesses in this country (e.g. the oil industry and agriculture) and large employers who pay so little that the only way their employees can often survive is by being eligible for food stamps or other benefits (e.g., Walmart). But that’s another story.

If we mean health insurance for people below or near the poverty line, then in fact, the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” — did expand Medicaid eligibility to people making up to 138 percent of the poverty line. For one person, that translates to an annual income of $15,800; for a two-person family, $21,300; three-person family, $26,800; and a family of four, $32,300. Most people and families making that level of income can in no way afford to pay for health insurance out of their own pocket and many have jobs without health-care benefits.

And without Medicaid, the only place you could go would be the emergency room — and that costs we the taxpayers much, much more. Those people are in that 28 percentile.

But Texas chose not to expand Medicaid eligibility through the Affordable Care Act, so about 700,000 people with incomes under those amounts are thus not actually eligible for health insurance at all. That is a little less than the number of people who live in the 17th Congressional District. But that is also another story.

So where does the other 72 percent of Medicaid funding get used? You might have been reading about the Texas Legislature battling over early-intervention therapies for young children with severe disabilities. In 2015, the Legislature cut huge amounts from that program. Some legislators are now trying to restore it.

What do we know? Early intervention is the most important time to provide therapies that will help children with disabilities develop for the long run. Many of these kids are on Medicaid, which means their families are not ruined financially by therapies and complex medical issues. These parents still work (and pay taxes). You may know some of these families. We often call them “heroic.” I guarantee you: They are grateful for the support, as you and I would be if we were in their shoes.

But early intervention is only a small piece. Think about most of the people in nursing homes in Central Texas. They are somebody’s mothers and fathers who cannot afford retirement centers. Medicaid pays for ongoing care: nurses, aides, meals, recreation, housekeeping, and more. Think about the programs supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities — both those who live in group homes and those who live at home with their families. In the latter case, supporting someone living at home is much more cost-effective than residential programs. Both options are far cheaper than an institution. Plus, they get to be part of the communities in which they grew up rather than being uprooted and sent away.

In the past decade, Texas has done some good work to redirect general revenue that paid for some of these supports into Medicaid. And they were able to use Texas taxes to draw down more federal dollars. However, the American Health Care Act — the Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act, some call it — would cut federal Medicaid dollars significantly, which means longer waiting lists for aging parents.

Then think about people with psychiatric issues who, if they cannot afford treatment, can often end up unemployed and homeless or in the largest treatment facility in most of the country — the county jail or a state prison. You may now be able to think of people you know. And through the help of Medicaid, the Heart of Texas MH/MR program has been able to start several creative programs to provide treatment that keeps people with mental illness with minor offenses out of jail, avoids admission to Austin State Hospital, and keeps them from being homeless. If Medicaid funding is cut dramatically, those cases might very well overwhelm community-based nonprofits and county services — or, to put it differently, end up falling totally on local and state taxpayers.

After its defeat last month at the hands of ultra-conservative House Republicans as well as Democrats, new attempts have arisen to revise the AHCA — this time by not just cutting Medicaid but also by eliminating the requirement for “essential health benefits,” which means required coverage for mental health issues and substance abuse that the ACA required. Think about people you may know who are addicted to drugs or alcohol or whose insurance is now paying for treatment and recovery programs at whatever income level. The new AHCA being crafted would also allow for insurance plans that would not cover pre-existing conditions — something President Trump once thought necessary. How many people in the 17th Congressional District have pre-existing conditions before they get to Medicare age? Around 400,000, about half of the 17th District population. You would know a lot of those people. You, like me, might even be one of them.

The truth is that Medicaid helps thousands of people in our own congressional district live lives that keep them out of more expensive medical and health services that someone would end up paying for. That someone, ultimately, would be you and me. It helps families at multiple income levels to provide care at home while they also work and pay taxes. It provides the opportunity for children and adults with physical, intellectual and/or psychiatric disabilities to learn, grow and/or recover where they learn and grow best, in community settings that enable relationships, participation, and contribution. When given a fair shot, many have the possibility of a job and becoming a taxpayer themselves.

To make this come alive, you plug in the stories of the people you know whose lives are more secure because of one of these kinds of programs, all made possible by this state/federal partnership we call Medicaid. Tell your stories to our elected leaders. If Texas was willing, we could do something about the ongoing stigma of being one of the states with the lowest quality of long range services for people with disabilities and the highest percentage of people who have no insurance at all.

In one of the richest states in the country, and within sight of some of the world’s best health care systems, this is not just a moral shame. It is obscene.

~~~

Rev. Bill Gaventa is president of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and a member of the Planning Network Advisory Committee, Heart of Texas MH/MR. He lives in Woodway, Texas.

Posted by: In: MCHC News 12 Apr 2017 0 comments

To view this article on the Texas Hunger Initiative website, click here.

March 20, 2017

Grant will continue outreach for child nutrition programs, conduct research to evaluate effectiveness

Media Contacts: Kasey Ashenfelter, Texas Hunger Initiative, 254-366-9844 and Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

Follow Lori on Twitter at @LoriBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia
Follow the Texas Hunger Initiative on Twitter: @Texas_Hunger

WACO, Texas (March 20, 2017) – The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University has received a $3 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to continue its work to end hunger in Texas.

With this grant, THI will build Hunger Free Coalitions across the state, continue child nutrition program outreach and conduct university-based research to evaluate and improve upon its work. The new funding will allow THI to go deeper in its current efforts as well as expand on projects working to find long-term, community-driven solutions to hunger and poverty.

More than 4.5 million individuals in Texas are food insecure. THI’s innovative model addresses the hunger problem at all levels – local, state and federal – by organizing systems and helping people work together to create more efficient and effective programs and policies that reduce hunger in Texas.

“There is so much great work happening in Texas communities, but without coordination, this work is pushing upstream,” said THI senior director Jeremy Everett. “We fill a unique role. We are getting people to work together – nonprofits and legislators and businesses and state agencies – and it’s untangling some complicated systems, allowing local organizations to maximize their work and getting existing resources to the people that need them.”

This model has proven to be successful for THI and its partners. Since 2009, 300,000 more students are eating breakfast at school every day, and 10 million more meals are served in school programs. In addition, there are 2,000 more summer meal sites in Texas that have served 21 million more meals each summer than compared with participation rates in 2009.

In Waco, THI has partnered with organizations such as the McLennan County Hunger Coalition, Waco NAACP and Waco Regional Baptist Network, among others, to support child hunger programs and raise awareness about resources to address hunger in Waco and McLennan Country. During summer 2016, nine sponsors of the summer meals program in McLennan County operated 72 sites, which together served 147,456 lunches and a total of 226,146 meals, including breakfast and lunch. These increases mean that more children and families in local communities have access to nutritious meals.

Along with its efforts to coordinate and support child nutrition programs, THI will be able to strengthen its efforts to build Hunger Free Communities across the state. These coalitions will bring together local individuals and organizations to foster collaboration, helping community members plan for and coordinate anti-hunger and anti-poverty efforts in their own cities and towns.

“We are excited that our new funding from the Walmart Foundation will allow us to continue existing relationships and grow deeper roots in and with communities,” Everett said. “We are looking forward to continuing to work with Texans to better serve all of our neighbors.”

ABOUT THE TEXAS HUNGER INITIATIVE

Baylor University’s Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) is a capacity-building, collaborative project dedicated to developing and implementing strategies to end hunger and reduce poverty through policy, education, research, community organizing and community development. THI convenes federal, state and local government stakeholders with nonprofits, faith communities and business leaders to create an efficient system of accountability that increases food security in Texas.

 

Posted by: In: Board Meetings 10 Apr 2017 0 comments
Posted by: In: Members 17 Mar 2017 0 comments Tags: , , ,

As an active member of the McLennan Country Hunger Coalition, we would like for you to help us in reporting to our business and church communities, as well as our local and state government!  MCHC has made a commitment to ‘End hunger in McLennan County’ and we need the support of our communities and governments to do so!  Your help in reporting your statistics will help bring your efforts into these presentations as we give them.

We want you to report to us quarterly, what you accomplished.  Please let us know:

  1. Your Organization Name,
  2. Your Name (contact),
  3. Time Period,
  4. Your metric*,
  5. Any comments you would like considered.

* Metrics…  We want you to report what you keep, or how you track your offering.  Pounds, tons, number of meals, or number of boxes/bags will all work.  IF YOU CAN, please give us a weight (pounds/tons) so we can have a standard measure for everyone.

 

 

When you are ready to report, just

<CLICK HERE> to email us your report!

 

 

Posted by: In: Events 09 Mar 2017 0 comments

It’s time to sign up for Farm Camp at World Hunger Relief, Inc. Your children will enjoy a variety of content that includes hands-on lessons, games, cooking and much more! We are offering two weeks of half-day Farm Camp for children ages 4 ½ to completion of 7th grade. Two themes are being offered for the two different weeks of Farm Camp. In addition, we are offering an overnight option on Thursday of the June week (for campers completing of 5th, 6th, or 7th grade). Farm Camp weeks are June 19th-23rd and July 10th-14th

 

Click Here for more information

 

Posted by: In: Events 09 Mar 2017 0 comments

Join us on the farm March 11th as we celebrate the beginning of a new corral project to support our livestock enterprises! Many generous donors have given in support of our new corral so we want to celebrate our project donors and enjoy our animal products. We’ll be smoking brisket and grilling pork sausage and chicken. Tickets are only $25!

 

Click Here for more information

 

Posted by: In: Events 09 Mar 2017 0 comments

Our Spring Farm Day 2017 will be Saturday, April 8th from 10am-3pm. Come out to the Farm and enjoy hayrides, a petting zoo, children activities, and live music all FREE. We will also have a farm fresh lunch available for purchase.

 

Posted by: In: MCHC News 09 Mar 2017 0 comments

From a story on FRAC…

WACO, Texas — Texas is among the top states in the country for public school participation in the national School Breakfast Program. The 2017 School Breakfast Scorecard from the Food Research and Action Center ranked the Lone Star State eighth-best in the nation for the number of schools providing breakfast to low income students.   Kathy Krey, director of the Texas Hunger Initiative at Baylor University, said it’s important for students who participate in school lunch programs to be included in the breakfast program.  …

 

Congratulations to the good works that is making a difference in child hunger!