[OPE-L] Deficit reduction on backs of poor

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Mon Jan 30 2006 - 16:56:50 EST

How will (US) Americans make sense of this
social retrogression?

Deficit reduction on backs of poor
Millions will pay more or drop out of Medicaid, analysts say
- New York Times
Monday, January 30, 2006

Washington -- Millions of poor people would have to pay more for health care under a budget bill
worked out by Congress, and some of them would forgo care or drop out of Medicaid because of the
higher co-payments and premiums, the Congressional Budget Office says in a new report.

The Senate has approved the measure -- called the Deficit Reduction Act -- the first major effort
to rein in federal benefit programs in eight years, and the House is expected to vote Wednesday,
clearing the bill for President Bush.

Overall, the bill is estimated to save $38.8 billion in the next five years and $99.3 billion from
2006 to 2015, with cuts in student loans, crop subsidies and many other programs, the budget
office said. Medicaid and Medicare account for half of all the savings -- 27 percent and 23
percent over 10 years.

The bill gives states sweeping new authority to charge premiums and copayments under Medicaid.

"In response to the new premiums, some beneficiaries would not apply for Medicaid, would leave the
program or would become ineligible due to nonpayment," the Congressional Budget Office said in its
report, completed Friday night. "CBO estimates that about 45,000 enrollees would lose coverage in
fiscal year 2010 and that 65,000 would lose coverage in fiscal year 2015 because of the imposition
of premiums. About 60 percent of those losing coverage would be children."

The budget office predicted that 13 million poor people -- about a fifth of all Medicaid
recipients -- would face new or higher co-payments for medical services like doctor's visits and
hospital care.

It said that by 2010 about 13 million poor people would have to pay more for prescription drugs,
and that this number would rise to 20 million by 2015.

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URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/01/30/MNGHIGVJT31.DTL

2006 San Francisco Chronicle

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