Friday, January 20, 2006

John Kline: Voting To Slash Medicaid Benefits

Congressman John Kline (MN-R) voted away our Medicaid health benefits by voting for the Budget Reconciliation Health Care Provision passed by the House on November 18 (HR4241, later inserted into S.1932).

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), HR 4241 contains gross cuts to national funding for Medicaid totaling more than $12 billion over five years; and $50 billion over ten years. As the bill also contains new funding for Medicaid relief for Katrina survivors totaling $2.5 billion and an additional $1 billion in other new expenditures; the net reduction to Medicaid in the House-passed bill is $8.9 billion over five years, and $43.7 billion over 10 years.

The majority of these cuts will fall directly on vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries who will be faced with dramatically higher out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses include $10 billion in new co-payments, premiums and deductibles over ten years.

Disturbingly, the Congressional Budget Office plainly states that 80% of this $10 billion in savings will result from Medicaid beneficiaries forgoing needed care. The conference agreement also contains $6.1 billion in benefit reductions over ten years, and an additional $6.4 billion in reduced payments for long term care.

Back in the fall of 2000 John Kline said he "supports a Republican proposal that will help the poor and lower middle class pay for drugs, but he doesn't think the federal government should help the wealthy pay for those pharmaceuticals." I guess he forgot about that promise as this bill has poor beneficiaries paying a lot more for a lot less. The American Public Health Association (APHA), the oldest and largest organization of public health professionals in the world, representing more than 50,000 members from over 50 occupations of public health, gives Representative John Kline an overall rating of 0% (the lowest among Minnesota's elected officials!).

That's John Kline -- not looking after your interests especially if you're poor or sick.

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