Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Obama, the Republicans, and the silent war against Medicaid

While the Republican-driven war on Medicare is grabbing public attention, President Obama's own war on Medicaid is going largely unnoticed.

The "friend of the court" document submitted to the Supreme Court by the Department of Justice on May 26 was strongly opposed by DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. When two arms of the Administration disagree on policy, the decision goes to the President. Congressman Henry Waxman was quoted today stating the President "evidently decided to let this brief go through, and this is a serious mistake."

The brief opens the door to the Supreme Court denying almost seventy million Americans the protections of federal Medicaid law. Children, adults with disabilities, and senior citizens will be at the mercy of state bureaucrats and, increasingly, the big business insurance companies that are gobbling up state Medicaid contracts across the country.

These are the same big corporations that stand to benefit if the Republican's "Voucher Care" concept of Medicare passes. Already accused of criminal Medicaid fraud in multiple states, these are companies growing at double digit rates thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and the biggest one was linked to the Tea Party back in 2009. Profits are made by not spending the federal and states funds they are paid on actual medical care.

George Washington University health policy expert Sara Rosenbaum warned that there’s “no stopping point … in terms of its spillover effects” if the Supreme Court broadly restricts individuals’ access to the courts over state implementation of such a federal program."

Please sign our petition to the Department of Justice to have this dangerous document withdrawn.

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About Me

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I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.