Vermont Senator Peter Welch joined advocates to highlight what they say is a need to protect Medicaid as its provisions are threatened by a bill passed by the Republican House majority.
House Republicans approved the “Limit, Save, Grow Act” on a 217 to 215 vote. The bill includes $100 million in cuts to Medicaid.
A number of advocacy groups and Democrats have panned the measure, dismissing it as the Default on America Act, saying it imperils millions of Americans. Protect Our Care spokesperson Anne Shoup calls the Republican measure extreme and draconian.
“We know from analysis from HHS that this extreme bill threatens health care for 21 million people. But it also cuts vital health care programs by 22-percent. This is what the Republicans in the House voted to cut: veteran’s health care services, mental health and substance use disorders including suicide prevention services and opioid response programs, community health centers which serve one in five rural residents, nursing home inspections, programs to address the health provider shortages, maternal health crisis initiatives and services for low-income mothers and babies. We’re talking about cuts to very important programs.”
Vermont Democratic Senator Peter Welch says he comes from a state that believes everyone is entitled to health care.
“I’m very much opposed to what will be significant cuts. We don’t know exactly how many people in Vermont would be affected by that but it obviously would be a substantial number of people. We want to keep in Vermont this commitment to health care that has served our state so well. Something by the way that has been supported by Republicans and Democrats and Independents. So I will do all I can to make certain that the Medicaid access is continuous for Vermonters and for all Americans who are the beneficiaries of access to health care through the Medicaid program.”
Welch’s fellow Democrat, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, says the bill is “dead on arrival.”
Joining Welch virtually was Jyll Allen, a resident of Essex, Vermont. She relies on Medicaid home-based services and fears the implications of the Republican bill.
“The Medicaid Home and Community based waiver has allowed me to be in the community and to have jobs and to access the community as much as I do and I fear for future generations if it gets cut. These cuts make me very, very worried. I fear that I could lose access to a lot of services that I need and my quality of life would plummet and then we would be back in the age of institutionalization or worse.”
Senator Welch warned that if millions of people lose Medicaid coverage everyone will feel the resulting fiscal implications.
“Let’s say 21-million Americans are thrown off of health care. Well, they still have health care needs. They still show up at the hospital. And what that is going to mean is this’ll be an aggravation of the cost shift. The burden will go on those local community hospitals. It’ll go on employers where there’ll be an effort to increase premiums in order to offset the cost of providing uncompensated care. So cutting Medicaid is the federal government’s way of sticking it to the states and also to individuals who get health care through their work with higher premiums. But it really then has ripple effects on everybody else in the state and in the country.”
President Biden says he will speak with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy but added the proposed cuts are not on the table.
Written by Pat Bradley, WAMC