Dem rejects block grants in Medicaid

The top Democrat on the House Budget Committee said he will fight back against GOP plans to turn Medicaid into a block grant system.

“Although our Republican colleagues have not yet released their proposed budget resolution, all indications are that they would like to dismantle the Medicaid program, doing serious damage to the health care safety net in this country, particularly for senior citizens and persons with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for long-term care," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement.

The Hill reported last week Republicans are looking at Medicaid cuts of up to $1 trillion. The Hill also reported Wednesday that Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) 2012 budget, which will be released next week, will definitely make convert Medicaid to block grants, but committee members are still discussing specifics.

Democrats and Republicans are waging political war over the healthcare program for the poor ahead of Ryan's budget unveiling. On Thursday morning, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a memo that seemed to link high-profile Democrats with previous support for Medicaid block grants.

Van Hollen met with Medicaid beneficiary and provider groups on Thursday to discuss the likely GOP budget. The Hill reported last week that the advocates fear Democrats will be forced to accept deep Medicaid cuts as a compromise with Republicans.

On Thursday, Van Hollen voiced strong opposition to block grants.

“Block granting Medicaid is simply code for slashing health care support for seniors, people with disabilities, and others," he said. "It is not reform. It does nothing to reduce health care costs. It simply gives governors a blank check and a license to deny critical care to millions of seniors and to people with disabilities."