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A Message on Medicaid from ANCOR CEO Renee Pietrangelo

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A Message on Medicaid from ANCOR CEO Renee Pietrangelo

August 5, 2011

Debt and Budget Reduction Deal that Protects Medicaid in Short-Term
Will Require Concerted Effort Over the Next Several Months
A Statement from ANCOR CEO Renee Pietrangelo
August 4, 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Budget Control Act of 2011, ending many months of debate and negotiations to reach a compromise plan to avert a U.S. default on existing obligations.

ANCOR is pleased that this debt increase and deficit reduction package spares individuals with disabilities and their families, providers and states from immediate cuts or policy reforms affecting Medicaid, Social Security and Medicare. Individuals with disabilities and their families depend on these entitlement programs for vital health and long-term services and income supports. Providers of long-term supports, already experiencing the crushing weight of cumulative annual Medicaid rate cuts by states, can collectively relish a momentary sigh of relief.

Kudos and many thanks to ANCOR members who rallied for months—especially over the past several weeks—responding to ANCOR’s multiple “calls to action” by urging Congress and the President not to make cuts to federal Medicaid spending. Your activism helped tip the scales in reaching a more favorable compromise.

Our work, however, has just begun. Medicaid’s future remains uncertain. Your continued, concerted efforts will be critical throughout the next few months!

The next stage looms before us this fall, with a Congressional vote on spending cuts, which includes Medicaid. This second stage in the plan affects entitlement programs and begins in the next two weeks, when House and Senate majority and minority leaders appoint lawmakers to a 12-person, bipartisan, bicameral “super committee.” This joint committee is charged with reaching agreement by November 23 on at least $1.2 trillion in cuts to reduce the deficit over the next ten years. Since the first stage of the debt plan makes nearly $1 trillion cuts in discretionary spending over ten years beginning immediately, the new committee will likely focus on entitlement cuts/reforms and possibly revenue(taxes). Congress will be faced with voting up or down on those deficit reductions by December 23.

There is already a “bull’s-eye” targeted on the Medicaid program. Within this tight timeline there will be Congressional pressure to make the quickest and easiest cuts to entitlement programs—cuts in provider payments—and other options not directly affecting beneficiaries.

Should a majority of the committee fail to reach agreement, or if Congress rejects the committee’s plan, then an automatic across-the-board cut mechanism will enforce the $1 trillion in cuts. ANCOR appreciates that the debt/budget reduction package exempts Medicaid from these automatic cuts. That was an important concession made late Sunday night and a clear indicator of the impact of ANCOR’s combined efforts.

Here’s what ANCOR is doing right now in prioritizing our efforts:

  1. ANCOR is contacting Congressional leaders asking that they appoint members to this joint committee who have Medicaid expertise and will fight against arbitrary cuts that harm Medicaid beneficiaries and/or shift costs to providers and states.

  2. ANCOR staff is developing strategies that include a campaign plan with specific steps for grassroots advocacy throughout the fall.

  3. ANCOR will continue our partnerships with formal and informal national coalitions in joint efforts within Washington and through external grassroots advocacy.

We know we can count on each of you and your broad stakeholder networks to step up efforts this fall to protect Medicaid.