The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has not
been on the minds of Twitter all year, but there has been an awakening.
Concerns about budget cuts and the impact of 2010 Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act on the Agency has recently pushed CMS into
the forefront of conversation on the leading social media site.
According to OhMyGov Analytics, over 6,400 mentions of the
agency were registered this week on Twitter--1,412 on May 22 alone.
Chatter on the social network site ranged from the need to
protect the independence of people with disabilities, to a federal judge's
ruling that Arizona's Medicare program must pay for incontinence briefs for the
However, the emotional testimony of Jessica Lehman, an
Oakland, Calif. resident and Medicaid activist, at the Caring Across
Generations Town Hall in Washington, D.C. Monday—created a lot of chatter. The Town Hall saw emotional testimony
from testicular cancer survivors and family of loved ones lost to diseases like
ALS as they spoke about the need to protect Medicare and Medicaid funding--even
as support for social programs come under increasing scrutiny from state
legislatures as well as Congress.
Some twitter mentions were:
from @JessicaLehman47 abt need to protect Medicaid to protect independence of
people with disabilities" @PICOCOAhealth tweeted.
"Joshua, a high
school student and cancer survivor, is struggling to get by after his father
passed away" the @CaringAcrossGen official account tweeted.
"At the CareXGens
Town Hall, listening to Joshua talk about his dad's death from ALS & his
own testicular cancer" Jessica Rothaar of PICOCOA Health, a nonprofit,
faith based social action network wrote.
But it wasn't just emotions that were being shared on
Twitter. Legal and political
concerns also dominated, demonstrated by the news that a Arizona judge ruled on
behalf of the Arizona Center for Disability Law, which brought a lawsuit
against the state to amend the law so that incontinence briefs could be
considered as 'medically necessary' health supplies--rather than accoutrements
that the state wouldn't have to fund.
"Judge rules on
Ariz. policy on incontinence briefs," The Phoenix Daily News tweeted.
"Arizona's Medicaid program must provide broader coverage for incontinence
briefs for disabled people under a new federal court ruling."
Yet the press weren't the only ones chiming in the
conversation. Colorado state
representative Dave Young (D-Greeley) threw his two cents in too, announcing
his impending meeting with Governor John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) about a 'global
payments' bill for Medicaid, AKA House bill 12-1281.
"Meeting with Gov Hickenlooper tomorrow @ Monfort Park
@11:30 AM to discuss hb1281," Young tweeted May 21. "hope to see you
If signed into law, H.B. 1281 would implement a pilot
program establishing new methodologies for Medicaid payments in the state--as
well as appropriating over $213,000 for the purpose of studying, and eventually
implementing the program by September 15, 2015.
Yet other states are going in the opposite direction. A
proposal by the libertarian Illinois Policy Institute would actually slash $2.6 billion in funding for the
state's Medicaid fund--a proposal supported by the state's Democratic governor
Pat Quinn as the state struggles to avoid the fate of California, whose deficit
has ballooned to nearly $16 billion as its governor, Jerry Brown (D-CA), campaigns on
a platform of higher taxes and deep spending cuts--including slashes of some
social service programs.
According to TheTelegraph.com, the 59 proposed reforms by
the institute would include eliminating funding for adult chiropractic
services, enforcing Medicaid eligibility rules, a reliance on generic versus
brand name drugs and a shift from short to long term community care.
The changes are already having an impact on the ground. According to a survey by Jackson
Healthcare in Atlanta, nearly 36 percent of physicians are turning away new
Medicare recipients in part because o declining Medicare reimbursements. According to the Kaiser Commission on
Medicaid and the Uninsured, if the President's health care law is upheld by the
Supreme Court, enrollment in Medicaid and Medicare could swell to 22 million in
A proposal by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
would repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, and
eliminate Medicare and Medicaid as entitlement programs, turning them into
voucher programs and block grant schemes, respectively. According to The New Republic, nearly 58 million Americans could end up
uninsured if Romney's proposals were to come to pass.