May 04, 2011

STATEMENT BY U.S. SENATOR BEN CARDIN ON THE NEED TO PROTECT MEDICAID

health list

I stand with the National Association of Counties and many other groups across America in denouncing the House Republicans’ plan to block grant and reduce funding for the Medicaid program.  As the leaders of jurisdictions across Maryland know, stable and adequate Medicaid funding from the federal government is necessary to help our state provide health services to Marylanders who are most in need.

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership, with the federal government paying 50 percent of the costs in most states, including Maryland.  The House Republicans’ budget would replace the federal matching funds with a block grant that, over the next 10 years, would reduce the federal Medicaid contribution by $771 billion.  It would also repeal the Medicaid expansion that is made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

Block granting Medicaid does nothing to reduce health care costs; rather it shifts the costs to state governments and low-income families at a time when they are struggling with their own budget crises as we emerge from a national recession.    Seventeen of the nation’s governors, including Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, have expressed their deep concerns with this proposal, acknowledging that Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposal would force them to either slash benefits, reduce provider payments, or raise taxes to cover the shortfall. 

Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities show that the House proposal could cut $21.3 billion in health care benefits from Maryland over the next 10 years -- $13.7 billion in matching funds and $7.6 billion to expand eligibility.  The results would be devastating for Maryland seniors, pregnant women, and children.  The Maryland Medicaid program provides coverage to more than 770,000 residents of our state.  It is estimated by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid that the Ryan budget  proposal would force at least 245,000 Marylanders from the program, leaving seniors and persons with disabilities in nursing homes, who are the highest cost enrollees, especially vulnerable.   

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