Advocates say supercommittee threatens Medicaid

Consumer advocates say Medicare and Medicaid are still at risk in deficit-reduction talks, despite a Republican supercommittee member saying he won't cut entitlement programs.

Families USA noted in a blog post Friday that all six Republican members of the supercommittee voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget proposal, which would convert Medicare into a sort of voucher system. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also proposed his own budget with even deeper health cuts.

Rep. Fred Upton, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and a member of the supercommittee, said earlier this week that the panel would not cut Medicare or Social Security benefits. He didn't mention Medicaid.

Most of the Republican supercommittee members, including Upton, have supported proposals to convert federal Medicaid funds into block grants for the states, according to a summary that Families USA compiled.

"As the super committee moves forward on deficit reduction proposals, we must continue to fight for the preservation of Medicaid," the group said in its blog post.

The panel's Democratic members all support the healthcare reform law, and have opposed various Medicare and Medicaid cuts. Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), however, said he would be open to President Obama's proposal to change the way federal Medicaid payments are calculated. The proposal would combine various matching rates into a single percentage.