CA’s GOP Representatives Vote to End Medicaid/Medicare, Shift Billions of Cost to California

Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a 2012 budget plan (with all Republican votes, opposed by all Democratic members and 4 Republicans from outside California) to end Medicaid and Medicare as we know it. The proposal would replace Medicare with a voucher program to buy private coverage, and replace Medicaid with a “block grant” program that would shift billions of dollars of costs to California.

It’s deeply disturbing that any California Representative–much less the entire GOP caucus in California–voted to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know it, given the dramatic impact not just on our seniors and families, but on the health system on which we all rely, and on our precarious state budget.

If this budget were ever to be enacted, the ramifications would be devastating, from seniors and families paying far more for care and coverage to millions more becoming uninsured. The Ryan proposal passed today by the House GOP does nothing to control the main issue of medical inflation but simply shifts major costs of care from the federal government to states, seniors, and families–all to pay for trillions of dollars in tax cuts.

It’s especially mindblowing, given the California budget crisis, that any California Representative would have voted to make it signficantly worse by billions of dollars–forcing the state to either raise taxes or make worse cuts.

The proposal to turn Medicaid into a block grant alone would cost California billions of dollars. If this Medicaid “block grant” proposal was put in place in 2000, California would have lost $35 billion in federal Medicaid dollars from 2000-2009, according to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. In 2009, the reduction in federal Medicaid dollars to California would have been 31%.

California GOP Representatives, who all voted for the Ryan budget and the Medicaid “block grant” proposal, were going against the advice of California’s elected leaders, who warned of the devastating impact on California citizens and the state as a whole.

* Governor Jerry Brown co-signed an April 4th letter from 16 Governors to Congressional leaders, warning against a “transformation of the Medicaid program’s finances that significantly shifts the costs and risks to states” and that would “severly undercut our ability to provide health care to our residents and adequately pay providers.”

* Senator Barbara Boxer co-signed an April 12th letter with other Senators to President Obama, opposed to a Medicaid block grant or other spending cap, stating that “complying with a spending cap would thus require unprecedented draconian cuts to Medicaid over time.”

* Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote her own letter on April 12th, warning that “Converting Medicaid to a block grant would harm the 7.2 million Californians who currently receive basic health care from the state program, Medi-Cal, and would shift costs to the state, counties, beneificiaries, and health care providers. Through such proposals, California stands to lose an estimated $147.8 billion–$878.7 billion in federal investment in Medi-Cal, and an additional $60.1 billion from the Medicaid expansion included in the Affordable Care Act.”

Given the dramatic and draconian impact to our state and our health system, Californians should be outraged by any Representative who voted for this budget. We will be actively educating Californians about these proposals, and the ready and realistic alternatives that are pending.

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

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