PR: Healthcare Update from Sherrod Brown

Posted by Brown06 0 comments  

Healthcare Update from Congressman Sherrod Brown

Knowing of your interest in healthcare, I am writing to alert you to developments in Congress that will have a direct and lasting impact on the healthcare needs of impoverished children, the frail elderly, individuals with disabilities and other vulnerable Americans.

As part of the budget process, Republican leaders are pursuing at least $10 billion in cuts from the Medicaid program. The President and House Republican leaders have recently proposed even deeper cuts to Medicaid and other programs that serve the poor and the elderly, reducing these programs to help offset tax cuts and the cost of Hurricane Katrina relief. They have resurrected a controversial proposal to turn Medicaid into a system of state-run "block grants". Under this proposal, the federal government would abandon Medicaid after a pre-set funding level is reached, leaving millions of children, seniors and other vulnerable Americans behind.

Medicaid is a federal/state partnership that provides health and long-term care coverage to millions of Americans. More than one in four of the nation's children would be uninsured if not for Medicaid. Because of Medicaid, pregnant women who live in poverty gain access to the pre- and post-natal care they need to ensure the health of their baby. Individuals with disabilities are able to live and work in the community because of Medicaid. Medicaid is the primary payer for two out of three Ohioans in nursing homes.

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina highlighted the importance of Medicaid. Katrina victims need health care that they simply cannot afford. The affected states are in crisis and are unable to fulfill the need, and the states hosting dislocated residents are unable to stretch their limited resources to cover access gaps. While the President has refused to provide federal funding to help the affected states deliver needed health care to Katrina Victims, a bipartisan coalition in Congress has recognized the need for meaningful federal assistance. Importantly, this coalition is advocating enhanced federal support for Medicaid as the most cost-efficient means of delivering this assistance.

In the wake of this natural disaster, it is particularly disturbing that the President and Congressional leaders would contemplate draining dollars from the Medicaid program. There has never been a greater need for Medicaid coverage. There is no ready alternative for the populations Medicaid serves.

If Americans care about the well-being of the unfortunate, about the health of our children and our parents, then our leaders should be bolstering Medicaid funding, not cutting it. As it stands, there are waiting lists for critical services and states are cutting coverage and benefits. Any legitimate savings garnered from Medicaid should be reinvested in the program to help preserve and expand it.

It is likely that Congress will debate the budget cuts within the next few weeks. Now is the time for concerned Americans to consider whether withholding funding from health care programs is the right way to fix the nation's budget problems, and give voice to your views on this important issue.