July 1, 2011 -- Deals to address the federal deficit and impending debt ceiling limit should not be balanced on the backs of low-income children and adults. The Administration and Congress should engage in a balanced approach to deficit reduction that places fair revenue increases and careful spending cuts on the negotiation table. But that is exactly what they are not doing!
With only weeks until the government begins to default on debts, now is the time for advocates to stop proposals that will damage or destroy key public programs for Americans with mental illnesses and other disabilities.
Entitlement Programs and More at Stake:
Policymakers are strongly considering proposals -- stemming from the House-passed budget (April 29 Bazelon Center Alert), the “State Flexibility Act” (June 9 Bazelon Center Alert), and the Administration’s “blended rate” -- that threaten to:
- Slash Medicaid by $771 billion
- End Medicaid as an entitlement, making it a block grant, guaranteeing more cuts
- Repeal the health care reform law
- Cap funding for community-based mental health services and other non-security discretionary funding at or below fiscal year 2008 levels
- Cut $1.4 billion over 10 years in the children’s disability benefit program (Supplemental Security Income (SSI)), specifically targeting children on ADHD medication
- Dismantle Medicare into a “premium support voucher” program that would hurt, among many others, people with disabilities who are also on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Erase the “maintenance of effort” (MOE) protection from the health care reform law that requires states to maintain current eligibility and enrollment requirements for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Cut the federal share of Medicaid and CHIP funding via a new “blended rate,” well less than the rate each state gets now, shifting more costs to cash-strapped states, which will likely cut services back more
What You Can Do
Use the toll free number 1-888-245-0215 to contact the President and Vice President, and 202-224-3121 (Capitol Switchboard) to contact lawmakers. Tell them:
- Reject short-sighted proposals (such as a “blended rate” or elimination of the “MOE”) that shift costs to cash-strapped states and would likely result in the loss of vital services for individuals in need.
- Prevent harmful cuts, caps or changes to programs outlined in the House-passed budget proposal.
- Use a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with fair revenue increases and careful spending cuts.
The Bazelon Center’s Federal Budget and Spending Webpage
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the “Blended Rate”