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The Republican budget assails Medi-Cal

Karen Bass | 6/15/2011, 5 p.m.

The Republican budget authored by Budget Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a downright scary proposal that slashes Medicare benefits and puts insurance companies in charge of seniors' healthcare.

Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Nobody is spared in this slash-and-burn Republican budget. Not seniors, not working families, and not children.

In our community, many of the family members and neighbors we care for; the teachers and community leaders we learn from; the small business owners and faith leaders we frequent are prime targets of the Republican budget, too.

Medi-Cal recipients, I'm talking to you. And who among us doesn't know a friend or family member on Medi-Cal? Children and parents, seniors including nursing home residents, and the disabled are all Medi-Cal beneficiaries, and they have reason to be fearful.

What is the Republican plan? Medi-Cal's guarantee of coverage would be eliminated. The federal commitment to fund the program would be severely reduced, to the tune of $800 billion over the next decade. The national program, Medicaid, would be gutted and turned into a block grant program. That should concern all of us, because the federal government would give states a one-time grant every year to pay for Medi-Cal services. And if those funds run out before the fiscal year ends, the Republican response to you as simple as it straightforward: "tough luck."

Consider a recent analysis of the Republican budget by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute. Medicaid would be "significantly compromised ... with no obvious alternative to take its place." The up to 44 million Americans dependent on Medicaid would become uninsured, if the draconian plan was adopted.

Medicaid provides healthcare to more than one in four African Americans and Latinos under 65 years old, and nearly half of all African American and Latino children. During this recession, our communities were disproportionately affected by the downturn. Between 2007 and 2009, an additional 1.4 million African Americans and 2.5 million Latinos enrolled in Medicaid due to a loss of healthcare coverage, often as a result of job losses.

In the midst of a sudden and dramatic economic downturn and as job losses mount and demand for government assistance rises, block grants are a recipe for disaster because funds needed within our communities would run out, fast.

In the 33rd Congressional District, there is not a pocket in our community unaffected by this plan.
Medi-Cal provides healthcare coverage for more than 29,300 seniors and individuals with disabilities. There are 1,800 nursing home residents in the 33rd District who depend on Medi-Cal.

The Republican budget puts their healthcare in jeopardy.

Medi-Cal provides healthcare coverage including vaccinations, well-child visits, and vision and dental benefits for 126,000 children in our region, including paying for the births of 9,900 infants.

Tough economic times require strong leadership, not a mean-spirited assault on working families, their parents and children. Taking shears to our social safety net and cutting big, gaping holes in that net is not right. And it's un-American.