Back in March, bipartisan groups of US senators and reps called for a commission to study ways to achieve savings rather than cutting Medicaid by $16 billion over 5 years, as Pres. Bush and Republican leaders in the Senate and House wanted. Ultimately, both branches had recorded roll call majorities opposed to any cuts and calling for the commission solution. At the end of the budget process, Congressional leaders pushed through $10 billion in cuts and a commission to study ways to improve the program. (See article.)
In the hands of new Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, the Commission will include four Democratic senators and reps as non-voting members, and the first charge for the Commission will be to develop a list of recommended ways to cut $10 billion from the program. Democrats are now refusing to participate in the panel.
Good for them! The same budget resolution approved by Congress cutting Medicaid by $10 billion also reduces taxes on millionaires by $32 billion. The same President who signed a law to prevent the removal of Terry Schiavo’s feeding tube signed a law as Governor of Texas to permit hospitals to remove life-saving support from patients with no ability to pay — and we’ll see a lot more of these if Congressional leaders have their way with Medicaid cuts.