The NYT reports today that President Bush’s forthcoming budget will apparently ask for $70 billion in cuts from Medicare, Medicaid and state children’s health insurance programs like NC Health Choice. Since Bush asked for $50 billion in cuts last year from the Republican Congress – and got few of those – it isn’t likely he will fare very well with these new cuts. Calling for these sorts of cuts in popular health programs is favorite trick of this administration. The President knows full well these cuts will never go through Congress – but he can use the supposed “savings” to fund even more of his dearly-loved tax cuts for the wealthy.
What’s lost in all this political gamesmanship is the effect on state-level budgets. Here in North Carolina, we are already looking to relieve counties of paying a share of Medicaid costs and trying to derail the existing federal funding shortfall anticipated for our state children’s health insurance program this year. Uncertainty about federal commitment for North Carolina’s health programs means state officials and lawmakers are more willing to consider serious cuts to Medicaid and less likely to expand critical services like kid’s health insurance.
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