By Julian Pecquet - 04/04/11 06:27 PM EDT
Sixteen Democratic governors are expected to send a letter to congressional leaders later Monday opposing a Medicaid overhaul, The Hill has learned.
The letter would come on the eve of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) unveiling of a 2012 budget proposal that is expected to propose turning Medicaid into a block grant program. As The Hill first reported two weeks ago, Ryan's budget could also cut the healthcare program for low-income Americans by as much as $1 trillion.
The letter is expected to have more than a dozen signatories, with one major absence: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The timing of the letter is especially significant because it comes as governors of both parties are working together on proposals to change Medicaid. President Obama during the winter meeting of the National Governors Association vowed to advocate for changes proposed by the governors, as long as they're approved by his Department of Health and Human Services. At the time, however, the president rejected a proposal to convert Medicaid to block-grant funding at a closed-door meeting with governors.
Many Medicaid advocates oppose transforming Medicaid into a block grant program because it would mean that its funding would no longer automatically rise with increased need resulting from an economic downturn or natural disaster. But conservatives say the open-ended program in its current form is bankrupting the country.