Virginia Organizing and Doctors for America Visit Rep. Cantor’s Glen Allen Office and Ask HimTo Stop Playing Politics With Medicare and Medicaid
Doctors for America Deliver Petition Asking Rep. Cantor to “Innovate, Not Amputate” Medicare and Medicaid
Glen Allen–As the heat rises in Richmond and heated debt ceiling talks continue in Washington, a group of doctors and community leaders from Doctors for America and Virginia Organizing delivered a signed petition to Rep. Eric Cantor’s Glen Allen office reminding him that a decision to cut Medicare or Medicaid can mean the difference between life and death for many Virginians.
Rep. Cantor has been a key figure in budget talks and has made international headlines because of his willingness to allow the U.S. to default on its debt unless radical cuts are made to Medicare and Medicaid. The constituents and physicians visited Rep. Cantor’s Glen Allen office today to express their disappointment with the Congressman’s unwillingness to negotiate on the debt ceiling unless dramatic cuts are made to the safety net and more tax cuts are given to the wealthy.
Residents and physicians expressed their concerns about cuts proposed in the Ryan budget, which Rep. Cantor voted for earlier this year and the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation, which he voted for this week.
Despite the fact that the Cut, Cap and Balance Act did not pass the Senate, a vote in favor of the act is seen by many as an endorsement of draconian cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and a politically motivated diversion from serious debt talks.
Candace Graham, a constituent of Rep. Cantor’s and member of the Virginia Organizing Budget and Revenue Committee, braved the intense heat to attend the event because health care cuts would have a dire effect on her family.
“My elderly parents live with me and I see first hand just how much they rely on Medicare. I think that my Congressman is out of touch with what his constituents want. The vast majority of Rep. Cantor’s constituents do not want to see cuts to Medicare and Medicaid,” said Graham. “People want an end to the Bush tax cuts. We want shared sacrifice for the wealthy and corporations. And we do not support Rep. Cantor’s attempts to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the disabled and the elderly,” added Graham.
Dr. J. Rayfield Vines, State President of the NAACPand constituent of Rep. Cantor’s was on hand to call on Congressman Cantor to legislate with human decency. “These health care cuts are an example of the ‘haves’ not having enough compassion for the ‘have nots.’ Those that have never gone without health insurance are not considering the dire impact these cuts will have on those who rely on Medicaid and Medicare,” said Vines. “Many politicians in Washington are grandstanding right now and they have sold us a bill of goods. They think it sounds great to say that they are against raising taxes but they fail to acknowledge that we need revenue to have good services and a society that works,” added Vines.
Dr. Chris Lillis, statewide director of the national advocacy group, Doctors for Americadelivered a petition signed by 1550 physicians to Rep. Cantor’s staff.
“Rep. Cantor's support of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the name of trying to improve our nations fiscal health is misguided,” said Lillis. “As a physician these cuts will impair my ability to deliver necessary medical care for those who need it the most. Not only will this harm the actual health of Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries but it will create newly uninsured Americans, raising health care costs for all of us. Cantor’s plan is a lose-lose situation for patients and physicians alike.”
The following petition was delivered to Rep. Cantor’s Glen Allen Office:
July 22, 2011
The Honorable Eric Cantor
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative Cantor:
As physicians and physicians in training, we call upon Congress to reject the drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the budget proposal recently passed by the House of Representatives. We believe the approach to these programs should be one of innovation – not the current drastic cuts which amount to an amputation of both programs.
Medicare and Medicaid protect the health of 1 in 3 Americans. For decades, these programs have provided access to care for millions of seniors, children, and the disabled who otherwise could not afford medical care. With the House-passed budget plan: Medicare changes would cause seniors and the disabled to have to pay an increasing amount out of their fixed incomes. Millions of seniors would find themselves unable to afford the care they need to stay healthy and out of the hospital.
Medicaid changes would cause states to make stark cuts in services. Millions of
children and working families would find themselves with no way to see a
doctor when they need one. As doctors who handle life and death situations every day, we know our health care system can both cut costs and improve quality while still providing Americans with the health care they need.
We are committed to ensuring that we as a nation can reach that goal. We ask you to reject the recent budget proposal and the devastating effect it would have on millions. Instead, we ask you to commit to working with us: innovate, don't amputate Medicare and Medicaid.
Meanwhile, a new report shows that proposed cuts to Medicaid, which already have passed the House, would put up to 25,680 Virginia jobs at risk, as well as $3 billion in business activity.
That’s the finding of “Jobs at Risk,” a report recently issued by Families USA. The report analyzes what would happen if Medicaid were cut 5 percent, 15 percent and 33 percent. Under the House budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, Medicaid would be cut 33 percent by 2021.
“The extreme cuts passed by the House of Representatives are a double whammy that will deny health care to tens of thousands of families and throw tens of thousands of additional Virginians out of work,” said Sandra Cook, Chairperson of Virginia Organizing. “Because health care is a major sector of the economy, it should be no surprise that significant cuts in the federal dollars coming to Virginia to support Medicaid will depress business and lead to increased unemployment.”
§ If Medicaid spending were cut 5 percent this year, it would cost Virginia $216 million in federal Medicaid dollars, and put at risk $462 million in business activity and 3,890 jobs.
§ If Medicaid spending were cut 15 percent this year, it would cost Virginia $650 million in federal Medicaid dollars, and put at risk more than $1.3 billion in business activity and 11,670 jobs.
§ If Medicaid spending were cut 33 percent this year, it would cost Virginia $1.4 billion in federal Medicaid dollars and put at risk more than $3 billion in business activity and 25,680 jobs.
The Families USA report focuses on the devastating economic impact of Medicaid cuts. It also acknowledges that the human toll of cuts would be much wider, affecting the health and well-being of low-income and middle-class families, children, seniors and people with disabilities.
But the job loss figure is particularly significant because although nationwide unemployment figures in June showed very modest job growth in the private sector, there was actual job loss in the public sector, causing the official national unemployment rate to climb to 9.2 percent. If Medicaid were cut, job loss would come from both the public and private sectors, because every Medicaid dollar that flows into a state stimulates private-sector business activity and creates jobs.
The full Families USA report, including state-by-state figures, can be downloaded at http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/Medicaid-Cuts-Hurt-State-Economies.pdf
Virginia Organizing is a statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.