A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Here's a good summary of the federal Medicaid budget fight by Families USA's Ron Pollack:

Here's a good summary of the federal Medicaid budget fight by Families USA's Ron Pollack:

May 2, 2005

Here's a good summary of the federal Medicaid budget fight by Families USA's Ron Pollack:

The Medicaid Fight: What Happened?

Even though Congress passed a budget resolution that includes $10 billion in cuts to Medicaid, the budget doesn't specify any policy requirements for achieving those cuts. In other words, the budget doesn't say what will be cut within Medicaid. Those decisions will be made by the Senate Finance and House Energy and Commerce committees during the reconciliation process, which we expect will be completed by or before mid-September. Our staff has produced a table that shows how much cuts of this magnitude could cost each state, and how many kids and seniors could be covered with that amount of money in one year. Click here for the document.

During the budget negotiations, there was much discussion about the creation of a Medicaid commission that would be charged with recommending Medicaid cuts to the congressional committees. At this point there's no decision about the framework, composition, scope and timeline of this commission, but it's an issue we're watching closely. The commission may issue some recommendations as early as September. It may be a very partisan, sham commission, but that is not yet clear.

Where We Go From Here

While it's hard to feel good about a budget that is balanced on the backs of the poor while adding to the fortunes of the wealthy, it's important to take a step back and look at the big picture as well. Yes, we are all disappointed; this budget will undoubtedly hurt millions of the most vulnerable among us. However, from the perspective of where we started last December (when we expected enormous structural changes in Medicaid and tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars in program cuts), the approximately $10 billion in Medicaid budget cuts is a far cry from what we feared. Because of your hard work and dedication, together we have prevented enormous and irreparable harm to millions of people who would otherwise have become uninsured and lost their health care.

We have a lot of work ahead of us in the coming months, but one thing remains clear: we are an extremely powerful voice when we work together. Make no mistake: your calls, e-mails and other efforts made a real difference during this fight. During the coming months we'll keep you informed about the latest developments in this fight, and will continue to ask for your help. I look forward to our work together in the coming months.

Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA