Medicaid advocates say cuts would hurt kids

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House Republicans’ budget proposes to cut more than $750 billion by converting federal Medicaid funding into block grants to the states. That might be too big of a change to work its way into a deal on the debt ceiling, and 41 Senate Democrats have said they’ll oppose block grants in the debt package — enough to stop it from even coming up for a vote.

But even President Obama has put hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicaid and Medicare cuts on the table. And advocates are also worried about a bill to repeal a provision of the healthcare law that prevents states from cutting eligibility. Although rumors of a markup this week in the House Energy and Commerce Committee turned out to be unfounded, the bill is still expected to move soon, and it hasn’t garnered the same forceful opposition in the Senate as the block grants.

The complexity of the Medicaid program and the variation in proposals to cut it make concise messaging more difficult, but children’s programs have emerged as a relatively consistent point of emphasis.

The children’s advocacy group First Focus highlighted the GWU report Monday.

“While there is broad agreement that we must take action on the budget deficit, it is shortsighted to cut the very programs which are critical for the health and well-being of children and other vulnerable populations, especially as families struggle with the ongoing recession,” First Focus President Bruce Lesley said. “Our nation has made enormous strides in improving access to coverage for low-income children and other vulnerable populations.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also come out in strong opposition to proposed Medicaid cuts, particularly repealing the “maintenance of effort” provisions in healthcare reform.