NEA, Labor Coalition Fight for Students in Budget Battle

With the fiscal cliff looming, lawmakers are scrambling to come to agreement on a deficit reduction plan. But in trying to avoid the cliff’s 8 percent across-the-board cuts, many entitlement programs may be in jeopardy, including programs like Medicaid that help the most vulnerable citizens.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of all Medicaid enrollees are children. One in three children in the United States uses services provided by Medicaid. Better health for students leads to better performance in school, according to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

Wilfred Dunn has been a teacher in Little Rock, Ark. for 17 years in one of the city’s poorest areas and is a diligent advocate for accessible health care.

“Almost all of my students are part of working families without health coverage, so they depend on Medicaid for their health care,” said Dunn.

At the elementary school where Dunn teaches, he has seen what can happen when his students don’t receive proper medical treatment. Either they stay sick longer and miss school, or they are in school feeling sick and not learning. One student not receiving care can affect an entire classroom, said Dunn.

“Before we educate these students’ minds, we have to make sure their bodies are healthy. Health care and education are invariably linked in the classroom.”

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Virginia version of new labor coalition ad.