A coalition of groups has issued a report that suggests seriously ill Iowans who exhaust all their private insurance coverage or cannot get insurance because of their condition may be hit hard by cuts to Medicaid.

People with serious medical conditions often qualify for government-paid Medicaid coverage. Stacy Frelund, the American Heart Association’s Iowa government relations director,  says over 72,000 Iowans have heart disease or have had a stroke.

“They rely on Medicaid as their primary source of health care coverage and they could be severely impacted if lawmakers limit the spending on this federal-state health care program,” she says. “Even in these budget times, we shouldn’t resort to cutting health care for the most vulnerable among us.”

Micki Sandquist, executive director of the American Lung Association in Iowa, says Medicaid finances medical treatment for 66,000 Iowans who suffer from chronic lung diseases like asthma and cystic fibrosis.

“Nearly 32,000 are children; 27,000 are adults and 7,000 are seniors,” she says. “That’s quite a break-down and really focuses where the needs are and who is using our Medicaid program.”

The Lung Association and the Heart Association, as well as the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and an advocacy group known as Families USA released the report today, suggesting cuts in the Medicaid program would mean “tens of thousands” of Iowans “would no longer be able to fill essential prescriptions, keep up with key screenings, or see a doctor if their condition worsens or reoccurs.”

President Obama’s deficit reduction package would cut more than 72 billion dollars from Medicaid. Republicans in the U.S. House and the so-called “super committee” in congress that’s supposed to come up with a deficit reduction plan may propose even deeper cuts. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, says there are “large numbers of Iowans” who could be impacted.

“The Medicaid program has been their lifeline,” Pollack says, “and so, obviously, we are concerned about any cutbacks that would result in the fraying of that lifeline.” 

More than half of the Iowans who are enrolled in Medicaid are children and nearly 20 percent of Medicaid receipients in Iowa are getting treatment for diabetes.