When the Republicans voted lock step on the Ryan Budget plan that would decimate the safety nets of Medicaid ans Medicare, they were not prepared for the harsh criticism from their own supporters and organizations that had praised their agenda in the past. During the Spring recess, House members faced angry constituents and a harsh press. On Tuesday, 42 freshmen sent a letter to the president asking that the Democrats forget that they used Medicare scare tactics fighting the Health Care Reform bill and back off holding them responsible for their votes on the Ryan Budget bill. Sorry, guys, no do-overs. You own it now.
The House Republican budget written by Paul Ryan has received a huge amount of criticism for its plan to replace Medicare with a poorly indexed private voucher program that could result in more and more seniors every year being unable to afford health care. Less focus has been put on how equally devastating the Ryan plan would be to people who rely on Medicaid because the plan would stop federal funding for the program from keeping up with the increasing cost of actually providing people with care.
A study from be the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid(PDF) lays out three likely scenarios of what would happen if the Republican plan were implemented.
Critics Fear G.O.P.’s Proposed Medicaid Changes Could Cut Coverage for the Aged
By Jennifer Steinhauer @ NYT
While the largest number of Medicaid recipients are low-income children and adults, who tend to be far less politically potent voices in battles over entitlement programs than older voters, the changes to Medicaid proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the House budget chairman, could actually have a more direct impact on older Americans than the Medicare part of his plan.
The House plan would turn Medicaid, which provides health coverage for the poor through a combination of federal and state money, into a block grant program for states. The federal government would give lump sums to states, which in turn would be given more flexibility and independence over use of the money, though the plan does not spell out what the federal requirements would be.
Beginning in 2013, these grants would increase annually at the rate of inflation, with adjustments for population growth, a rate far below that of inflation for health care costs. As a result, states, which have said that they cannot afford to keep up with the program’s costs, are likely to scale back coverage. Such a reduction, critics fear, could have a disproportionate effect on Medicaid spending for nursing home care for the elderly or disabled.
Critical Letter by Catholics Cites Boehner on Policies
By Laurie Goodstein @ NYT
More than 75 professors at Catholic University and other prominent Catholic colleges have written a pointed letter to Mr. Boehner saying that the Republican-supported budget he shepherded through the House will hurt the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable, and that he therefore has failed to uphold basic Catholic moral teachings.
“Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the church’s most ancient moral teachings,” the letter says. “From the apostles to the present, the magisterium of the church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.”
The letter writers criticize Mr. Boehner’s support for a budget that cut financing for Medicare, Medicaid and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, while granting tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations. They call such policies “anti-life,” a particularly biting reference because the phrase is usually applied to politicians and others who support the right to abortion.
The shoe is once again on the other foot and it is up to the Democrats to make sure it causes permanent bunions, by making them own their votes and pay the price.