February 1, 2011
Dear <Member of Congress>,
Since their inception, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have been a key source of health coverage stability for millions of the nation's low-income children and families, seniors, and people with disabilities. In economic downturns, Medicaid and CHIP play a critical role in maintaining access to necessary health care for children, and in some instances, parents. Low-income seniors have been able to turn to Medicaid for help with Medicare premiums and for needed long-term services and supports. People with disabilities have looked to Medicaid for help with the services they need to continue to be active members of their communities. All told, over 50 million people rely on Medicaid and CHIP for access to critical health care services that they could not otherwise afford.
In the Affordable Care Act, Congress recognized the important role these programs play to our nation's health coverage structure. One important provision of the Act ensures stable Medicaid and CHIP coverage by requiring states to hold steady on Medicaid and CHIP eligibility until 2014 for adults and 2019 for children. To date, these stability protections have worked exactly as intended, preventing states from reducing Medicaid and CHIP eligibility and adding red-tape barriers to enrollment just when people need help the most.
But now, some of our nation's Governors are seeking to eliminate this important protection in the face of budget challenges. While there is no doubt that these state budget problems are serious and warrant attention, taking health care away from millions of American seniors and children is the wrong response. What the Governors propose would undercut the remarkable gains we've made in recent years in insuring our nation's children and imperil the availability of long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. This outcome would be in direct opposition to our nation's goal of reducing the number of uninsured. Moreover, cutting Medicaid would threaten the fragile economic recovery, since cuts to Medicaid translate into significant cuts in state business activity and jobs.
The economic and health care security of millions of Americans is at substantial risk if the stability provisions in the Affordable Care Act are weakened. We therefore urge you to stand firm and vigorously oppose any efforts to weaken these provisions. Our organizations are ready to work with you, with CMS and with state government to find smarter, more efficient ways to respond to state budgetary problems.