White House highlights youth programs as Medicaid cuts loom

Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, touted the Obama administration's record on children's issues Thursday as budget negotiators continue to discuss cuts that could affect children's health coverage.

Barnes highlighted reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program and new benefits under healthcare reform, as well as nutrition and school-lunch programs.

She also emphasized the importance of Medicaid, saying the administration recognizes its value to low-income families and disabled people.

"These aren't just numbers. These are people," Barnes said at an event sponsored by the children's advocacy group First Focus.

First Focus and other organizations are concerned about the potential impact of Medicaid cuts that are believed to be on the table in budget negotiations. Children could lose coverage under many of the proposals that have been discussed, and others — including President Obama's proposal — would likely shift more Medicaid costs to the states, potentially leading to cuts in other areas, such as education.