Senate Democrats

Reid: Republican Congress Leaves Medicaid’s Most Vulnerable Beneficiaries Unprotected

$16 billion cuts would reduce benefits, increase costs

Washington, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today expressed indignation and opposition to the Medicaid provisions contained in the federal budget legislation that would be particularly harmful for minorities and low income families. Some of the most harmful provisions include increased out-of pocket costs for patients, which would force many families to choose between paying for needed health care or food. The bill allows providers to deny service if a patient has no ability to pay the charges at the time of service and state can terminate coverage if a family cannot pay premiums.

The conference report, which includes over $16 billion in cuts related to cost-sharing and benefit reductions for Medicaid beneficiaries over ten years, would adversely impact the ability of families to see their doctors.

“It is deeply troubling to see how this Republican Congress has chosen to put their special interest agenda ahead of the well-being of the most vulnerable populations– children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and low-income racial and ethnic minorities,” said Senator Reid. “Republican priorities are misplaced. Democrats know America can do better. We can have a health care system that’s affordable and accessible by focusing on the right priorities.”

In addition, new provisions would place grueling verification rules for citizen applicants, who even if they are eligible for services could be denied access if they fail to present a limited set of documents, such as a birth certificate or a passport. For many people, including Americans in rural communities, elderly Americans or low income families, getting these documents is very difficult, costly and sometimes even impossible. Some seniors, particularly those who are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities or who were born in rural areas, did not have access to hospitals where birth certificates are issued.

“We must do better to reverse the misguided priorities of the Bush Administration that put tax cuts for multi-millionaires ahead of programs that benefit our working class families,” said Reid.