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Friday, August 19, 2011

Super Committee Still Potential Threat Medicaid

Lydia Mitts

Staff Writer

At the eleventh hour, Congress came up with a deal to avoid defaulting on our national debt. That deal ties raising the debt ceiling to a two-part deficit reduction plan. In the first round of the deal’s deficit reduction, which included $1 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, Medicaid was spared from any cuts. However, the fight to protect Medicaid is far from over. As part of the debt agreement, a “super committee” of 12 members of Congress is charged with coming up with a plan by the end of November that will reduce the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. As of right now, everything is on the table.

This committee has the power to propose any legislation, including making large cuts to, or totally restructuring, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, which provide essential health services to millions of elderly Americans, people with disabilities, children, and our country’s most vulnerable citizens. The committee could also propose increasing taxes on the wealthy, but it is doubtful Republicans on committee would endorse such a plan.

The leadership in Congress recently appointed all the members of this super committee. You can see an overview of all committee members here. And although we can’t know exactly what the committee members will propose, we can look to the deficit reduction strategies they’ve supported already this year to get a sense of what may be on the table.

Unfortunately, all six Republican members of the super committee voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal to slash federal Medicaid spending by $1.4 trillion and turn Medicaid into a block grant. That plan, which was defeated in the Senate, would have shifted costs to states. States would have gotten much less money than they receive now, then, they would then have been on the hook for all Medicaid costs over their allotment. As a result of less funding, states would have had to cut back Medicaid or pass more costs on to consumers.

You think that’s bad?, Republican super committee member Sen. Pat Toomey went a step further and developed his own budget proposal that would have been even more damaging to Medicaid—it included even larger cuts to the existing Medicaid program than the Ryan plan and also turned Medicaid into a block grant.

In addition to supporting proposals that would devastate the Medicaid program, conservative super committee members have a clear history of prioritizing millionaires’ bank accounts over crucial programs that the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and our most vulnerable citizens depend on. It’s clear that the battle to protect Medicaid is far from over.

As the super committee moves forward on deficit reduction proposals, we must continue to fight for the preservation of Medicaid. It is simply unacceptable to place the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of working-class families and our most vulnerable citizens, while asking nothing of the richest in our country.

To learn more about all of the threats to the Medicaid program, you can check out a new fact sheet by Families USA here.

If you want to get involved today, you can check out our new Twitter tool, which you can use to send a tweet to your elected officials telling them that severe cuts to crucial programs like Medicaid is not an acceptable deficit solution.

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