Subprime Monday…

What comes between Super Sunday and Super Tuesday?

Subtraction Monday.

The California Senate Budget Committee held a umpteen-hour hearing on the health care budget cuts, the last hearing on specific cuts before putting together a mid-year cuts package. Hanh will have a full report later today.

President Bush put out his new budget today, and it’s also not pretty.

For starters, he proposes $560 billion in cuts from Medicare over the next decade. Here’s Families USA:

Following up on his indefensible veto of the kids’ health bill, President Bush proposed inadequate funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Under the President’s proposal, the program could not even continue to serve the children currently eligible for the program. The President also proposes drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. These public programs offer health security for many families and are more important than ever when we face hard economic times.

The President’s solutions for the rising cost of health insurance and the growing numbers of uninsured follow three simplistic principles:
* Ask people to pay more out of their own pockets for health care;
* Create tax breaks that provide little or no help to low-income families;
* Provide no government oversight of the behavior of insurance companies.

This budget, like many over the last seven years, offers clear insight into the Bush Administration’s priorities for our health care system — priorities that place working Americans at risk.


Here’s the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, from their budget brief, well worth reading in full:

The President’s budget would provide more tax cuts heavily skewed to the most well-off while cutting vital services for low- and moderate-income Americans, generating large deficits, and increasing the strain on states already confronting budget problems as a result of the economic downturn. The budget reflects misguided priorities that would leave the American people more vulnerable in a number of ways….

MEDICAID: In addition, the budget would cut federal Medicaid expenditures by $18.2 billion over five years (with $17.4 billion in reductions from legislative changes and another $800 million from regulatory changes). These “savings”
would primarily be achieved not by lowering health care costs, but rather by shifting costs to the states.

MEDICARE: In addition to the Medicaid cuts, the budget includes $556 billion in Medicare reductions over ten years. Many of the proposed cuts go well beyond the reductions that MedPAC, Congress’ expert advisory commission on Medicare payments, recommended and considers safe. These reductions could drive some health care providers to limit the number of Medicare patients they see or drop out of the program entirely. That, in turn, would jeopardize health care for significant numbers of people who are elderly or have serious disabilities… At the same time, the Administration rejected MedPAC’s call to curb the tens of billions of dollars of overpayments being made to private insurance companies that serve some Medicare beneficiaries through the Medicare Advantage program.

SCHIP: The budget includes what it describes as a $19.7 billion increase in funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This would not, however, allow states to cover more uninsured children, millions of whom are eligible for SCHIP and Medicaid but unenrolled. States need an increase of approximately $21.5 billion over the next five years simply to maintain their current programs. This is because the budget “baseline” for SCHIP includes no adjustment for health care inflation in coming years; the baseline actually assumes a reduction in SCHIP funding for 2009. Under the Administration’s funding level, therefore, states would be required to scale back their SCHIP programs modestly unless they were able to increase their own funding.

We have a lot of work to do in the new year, at both the state and federal levels…

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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