On a party line vote among the California delegation, the US House of Representatives voted this week on a House budget resolution for fiscal year 2018 with massive cuts to health and other vital services. This budget resolution also begins the process for pushing through a massive tax cut package with just 51 votes in the U.S. Senate.
The budget being proposed outlines staggering cuts to key health programs that California relies on: $1.5 trillion to Medicaid, $487 billion to Medicare, as well as cuts to everything from Pell grants to food stamps to school lunches. Medi-Cal (Medicaid in California) covers 14 million Californians, including a third of the state, half of all children, two-thirds of all nursing home residents and is a crucial funding stream for nearly every hospital in our state.
Over 125 health and community advocates had written to the our entire California Congressional delegation, urging opposition to a budget that disproportionately harms California families.
No California Congressmember should have voted for this budget and tax cut legislation that cuts our health care system, especially Medicaid and Medicare so severely. The House budget’s $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid would disproportionately harm our health system in California, since Medicaid covers one-third of our state, including half our children and two-thirds of our nursing home residents, and is a major funding stream for nearly all our hospitals. The budget is just another round of the failed health repeal effort. Through the budget, Congress is again attempting to cut health care for low- and moderate-income people in order to provide a major tax break for wealthiest and corporations.”
It was bad enough that any California Congressmember, much less fourteen of them, would vote for cuts and caps to Medicaid as part of Obamacare repeal. It’s even worse that these California Representatives voted for a federal budget that includes double the Medicaid cuts that were in the failed repeal of the ACA. Nobody representing California should have supported this federal budget and its devastating cuts to California and our health system. This budget vote is another moment where we needed our Congressmembers to defend their California constituents, but they yet again put party politics before protecting patients and the public.
Community organizations held events in response to this House Budget vote in front of Congressmembers offices from San Diego to the Central Valley. They included a vigil in Modesto in front of Rep. Jeff Denham’s office that featured a long paper chain symbolizing the significant and disproportionate number of people at risk under the House Budget. This is especially true in Rep. Denham’s district which includes over 300,000 constituents with Medi-Cal coverage. Another protest in Vista in front of Rep. Darrell Issa’s office had community members visiting the office, which apparently was unaware of the budget vote. Constituents explaining to the office staff the awful impacts of House budget on hundreds of thousands of Issa’s constituents–the budget that Issa had just voted for.
One commentators suggested that if the ACA repeal efforts were really tax cut bills in disguise, the tax cut and budget bills were reallly ACA and health repeal efforts in disguise. All of these proposals cut the health care of low- and moderate income people in order to fund tax cuts for the very wealthy. We will continue to monitor the federal budget and tax cuts legislation very closely.