Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Take action: Call in Days to Save Medicaid 6/14 and 6/15

Many families of children with special needs, and adults with special health care needs, rely on Medicaid. Family Voices Indiana shares this important information from our national organization regarding threats to Medicaid at the national level. Please take the time to take action:


Background. The nation will reach its “debt ceiling” by August 2 unless Congress votes to increase it. But many Members of Congress say they will not vote to increase the debt ceiling unless significant cuts are made in federal spending. Since failure to increase the debt ceiling would likely harm the economy, these Members of Congress have a lot of bargaining power.

Status. Negotiations between Congress and the administration are underway to reach an
agreement on how to reduce the budget deficit, which can be achieved by cutting spending, increasing revenues (by closing tax loopholes or raising taxes), or a combination of the two. There is no doubt that there will be spending cuts, and Medicaid cuts could be part of the deal.

Medicaid is very vulnerable – it could be subject to significant cuts or even changes to its structure so that is no longer available for some people who would qualify for it now.

Why is Medicaid so vulnerable?
Politically, it is very difficult to cut Social Security and Medicare due to the power of the seniors lobby. Plus, Medicaid is an expensive program for both the states and the federal government, so savings from cutting it could be significant.

What are the threats? There are several proposals that would severely weaken Medicaid:

Block grants. Medicaid could be changed from an entitlement to a “block grant,” under which a fixed amount of money would be given to each state and states would have more flexibility to determine who is eligible for the program and what services are covered. For the federal government to save money, it must give less to the states than they get now, so states would have to make up the difference or (much more likely) cut eligibility or benefits.

Caps on spending. Medicaid could also be cut if there is a cap on overall federal spending or on health care spending. A cap could lead to the same results as a block grant.

Repeal of the maintenance-of-effort (MOE) provision. The health care reform law contains a provision that prohibits states from changing Medicaid or CHIP eligibility rules or procedures for children until 2019 and for adults until 2014. Without the MOE requirement, states would likely cut beneficiaries and/or services to save money now.

Bottom line: Advocates – including you -- need to tell Congress not to harm the Medicaid program and the children and families who depend on it. Seniors made lots of noise when they thought Medicare might be changed. Capitol Hill offices are not hearing much noise about Medicaid. We need to change that! Give your children a voice – contact your Members of Congress and the President to tell them not to weaken Medicaid.

How to contact Congress and the President. Click here to send a pre-written letter to your Members of Congress from the Family Voices website. Click here to send a message to President Obama. (Just say “Don’t weaken Medicaid in the budget deal. Briefly, describe your situation if applicable.) You can call your Members of Congress at 202-224-3121.

Tell your family and friends to do the same. ACT NOW TO HELP SAVE MEDICAID!

For more information, please contact Janis Guerney (jguerney@familyoices.org / 202-546-0558) or Brooke Lehmann (blehmann@familyvoices.org / 202-333-2770).

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