HEALTH ACCESS UPDATE
Monday, March 15th, 2004
* Federal Budget Update: Senate Actions; Medicaid Cuts Threatened in House
* Anti-SB2 Campaign Fined $25K for 10 Counts of Disclosure Law Violations
* Updated Calendar of Health and Budget Events (http://www.health-access.org/calendar.htm)
FEDERAL BUDGET UPDATE: MEDICAID CUTS THREATENED
GOOD VOTE IN THE SENATE: In a victory for national health care advocates
last week, the Senate voted to NOT require severe Medicaid cuts over the
next several years. Several Republican Senators joined the Democratic caucus
in voting for an amendment by Senator Baucus to take the section requiring
cuts out of the main budget resolution by Senator Nickles. (An attempt by
Senator Rockefeller to include an extension of federal assistance to states
through continued enhanced Medicaid matching funds was not pursued at this
time, but will be made later as the budget process continues.)
BAD VOTE UPCOMING IN THE HOUSE: The House of Representatives is now
considering their budget resolution, and once again, there is a significant
threat to Medicaid. The House Budget Committee plans to complete meet its
work by this Wednesday, March 17th, and have the full House consider the
resolution the week after.
The House budget resolution will require at least $2 billion in Medicaid
cuts, as well as caps on discretionary spending (such as education and other
health programs). It would also include budget rules that are likely to make
it easier to make all the President’s tax cuts permanent, placing further
pressure to cut health programs. A full analysis of the House budget, and
all its problems, is available by the Center for Budget and Policy
Priorities at http://www.cbpp.org/3-12-04bud.htm.
Already, 29 House Republicans have signed a letter opposing cuts to
Medicaid, including California Congressmen George Radanovich of Fresno, Ed
Royce of Fullerton, and Randy “Duke” Cunningham of Escondido. The letter
states, in part “As the Budget Committee prepares the House budget
resolution we are troubled by proposals that could weaken coverage and
access to services for millions of Americans, including our nation’s seniors
and disabled, by making reductions to the Medicaid program…. The state and
federal governments have ensured that more than 50 million people have
access to health care services through the Medicaid program. This includes
25 million children – more than one in four in the U.S… Proposing
reductions without ensuring the preservation of coverage for those in need
simply transfers the burden to states. We urge the Budget Committee to
refrain from proposing cuts to Medicaid spending. Any cuts would add
millions to the ranks of the uninsured at a time when Congress is working to
reduce those ranks.”
ACTION: Please call your Congressional representatives to tell them, as part
of the budget resolution:
1. Oppose the caps on discretionary programs.
2. Oppose making the president’s tax cuts permanent.
3. Oppose provisions that force cuts to Medicaid.
All Representatives should be contacted. National advocates have
specifically asked for calls and faxes to go to California Representatives
Mary Bono of Palm Springs, Jerry Lewis of Redlands, and Doug Ose of
Sacramento. Also, thanks should go to Radanovich, Royce, and Cunningham for
signing the Medicaid letter.
ANTI-SB 2 CAMPAIGN FINED FOR DISCLOSURE VIOLATIONS
This morning, Monday, March 15th, the California Fair Political Practices
Commission (FPPC) imposed an administrative penalty of $25,000 on the
campaign seeking to repeal SB 2, the bill to protect and expand
employer-based health coverage for millions of Californians. The campaign
was found on 10 counts of failing to report contributions totalling over $1
million, from companies including Nordstrom’s, Target, Sears, and Yum!
(owner of KFC and Taco Bell).
By disclosing their contributions two months late, these large corporations
didn’t seem enthusiastic to let the public know about their work to repeal
this law protecting health coverage for workers. Advocates for SB 2 will
make sure the public knows who the employers are who seek to scale back
health coverage or drop it altogether, not only for their workers, but their
customers as well.
Anthony E. Wright
1127 11th St., #234, Sacramento, CA 95814
Ph: 916-442-2308, Fx: 916-497-0921