Ministers from Prince George's and Montgomery counties attended and ecumenical breakfast this week to support the call by senior citizens for changes in Medicaid legislation.

"The people affected by this issue are admittedly a minority but to them it is a matter of sustaining life," said Georgia Holden, president of Betterment for the United Seniors (BUS), the organization that planned the breakfast and a leading group in Medicaid reform efforts. "It is also possible, even likely, that many people now unaffected will experience similar needs in the years ahead," she said.

More than 50 ministers and members of their congregations attended the gathering, held at St. John Baptist De La Salle Catholic Church in Chillum. Many of the pastors expressed concern over the fact that a number of poor and elderly members of their congregations have lost Medicaid benefits and are in desperate need as a result.

An estimated 18,000 elderly residents of Maryland lost Medicaid benefits last summer because of change in state standards and procedures for establishing eligibility

BUS leaders hope to persuade Gov. Blair Lee and members of the Maryland legislature to raise the eligibility levels for Medicaid and for Aid to Families With Dependent Children, to which Medicaid levels are tied. The organization supports state senate bill 181, which would allow needy persons to deduct from income declared for eligibility purposes the anticipated and documented monthly costs of medicine and medical appliances.

BUS members distributed leaflets urging the ministers to attend a meeting the organizations hopes to schdule with the governor, to write to the governor, to the senate's budget and taxation committee and to the appropriations committee in support of SB 181; to sponsor a "Medicaid Sunday or Sabbath" in their churches, or to include Medicaid informatin and pleas in church bulletins.

The ministers' gathering was part of an ongoing effort that BUS believes is needed to keep the issue from being passed over. Medicaid reform was a major concern of Senior Day in Annapolis last month, sponsored by a coalition of organizations known as United States of Maryland.