Thursday, July 7, 2011

MEDICAID IS IN PERIL!

FV Indiana shares the article bellow from the National Family Voices Policy Team. FV Indiana had the opportunity to speak with administration about Medicaid today in DC. We will share more about that in another post. For the moment, we can not state strongly enough how critical it is you contact your Representative and both Senators and tell them how much Medicaid matters to your family. You can find their contact information online using the Senate Directory and the House Directory . All members can be reached by call the switch board, 202-224-312.
Please share your family story with your relatives, friends, neighbors and others and have them call too (from any State!). Decisions about the debt ceiling may be made as soon as Sunday afternoon and our VOICES have to be heard now. Please know that your voices are needed to save Medicaid.

by Brooke Lehmann and Janis Guerney (FV Policy Team)

At this time, the focus of activity in Washington, DC, is the negotiations over the "debt ceiling"-or, more specifically, what deficit reduction measures will be taken in exchange for votes to increase the nation's debt ceiling (essentially like a credit limit). 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.

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 will likely be part of the deal. In fact, many experts cannot envision a solution to these negotiations that doesn't negatively impact Medicaid and therefore its recipients.

Why Medicaid? Congress and the Administration have chosen to seek savings largely through cuts in the "entitlement" programs since those constitute such a large share of the federal budget. Politically, it is very difficult to make cuts in either Social Security or Medicare, two significant entitlement programs, due to the power of the lobbying groups that support them. The same is not true for Medicaid.

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.
• Caps on spending or debt. Medicaid could also be cut if there is a cap on overall federal spending, health care spending, or on the total amount of debt. A cap could lead to the same results as a block grant unless Medicaid is exempted from cuts that would be taken if spending/debt exceeds the cap.
• 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. Many governors are pushing for repeal of the MOE so they can cut beneficiaries and/or services to save money now.
Recently, 41 Senators signed a letter to the Administration indicating that they would oppose significant cuts to Medicaid. While this letter sends a strong message of support for the program to those currently conducting the negotiations, it alone won't be enough to protect it.
Recipients of Medicaid's benefits, and those who love and support them, must also make their voices heard.

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