Last month, Congress and President Obama worked out a budget deal that provides relief from the sequester caps, raises the debt ceiling, and prevents a steep scheduled rise in Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles. Despite this welcome show of bipartisanship, the remainder of this legislative session will likely include continued attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and funding for Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this month Congress agreed on a budget that should worry consumer health care advocates. It proposes slashing Medicaid spending and makes other changes that threaten low-income consumers’ access to health care. Expect a busy summer as committees debate these measures.
Federal funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) expires in September 2015. At a time when we are expanding health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, we must also ensure that CHIP—which, as of June 2013, provided health coverage to 5.7 million low-income children—continues well beyond next year. If Congress does not extend CHIP in 2015, millions of children will be left without affordable health insurance.
Congressman Paul Ryan released his budget proposal today for Fiscal Year 2015, outlining the funding and policy priorities for House Republicans. As in past years, this budget cuts a large chunk of health care funding, causing irreparable harm to millions of Americans who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and provisions under the Affordable Care Act to stay healthy.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $67 million in grants to 105 organizations to hire navigators and help consumers enroll in health insurance marketplace plans.
These navigators and assisters have played an invaluable role to millions of people who have signed up so far. Now, the federal government must prepare for the next round of funding.
Congress Should Vote to Make Permanent Two Federal Programs Benefitting Low-Income Families and Individuals
Unless Congress acts quickly, funding for two federal health programs that are critical to low-income families will expire on March 31. Both the Qualified Individual (QI) program and the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program are integral to providing health care to families transitioning from welfare to work and to helping low-income seniors pay their Medicare monthly premiums. Making both programs permanent is the best way to ensure that these small but important programs continue to meet the needs of the individuals who rely on them.
The President’s Budget Offers a Pragmatic Approach to Deficit Reduction while Protecting Health Care
Today President Obama released his proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year. Unlike the austerity budget passed by House Republicans last month, his proposal protects and strengthens our nation’s health care priorities, including Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and Medicare.
For the third year in a row, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has passed a budget proposal authored by Congressman Paul Ryan that transforms Medicare into a voucher system (also known as premium support). Starting in 2024, people born after 1958 would get a voucher to use toward either private insurance or traditional Medicare coverage. If the voucher is too small to buy adequate coverage, those who rely on Medicare will have to make up the difference with money out of their own pockets.
The budget fight is sure to heat up in the next couple of months in what seems like a never-ending battle between the President and Congress. So what’s at stake? Many lawmakers want to see large cuts to a range of health care programs—many of which reduce health disparities and provide vital services to millions of people of color. Such cuts would exact a heavy toll on the health of communities of color and only worsen racial inequities in health.