Friday, April 15, 2011

Proposed Medicaid Cuts Could Be Devastating to Utah

By PATTY HENETZ-The Salt Lake Tribune

Advocates for elders and low-income residents in Utah see Republican plans for cutting Medicare and Medicaid costs as an unfair approach that could mean the loss of billions of dollars to Utah.

The proposal released last week by House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., would repeal key provisions in the year-old Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare and cut $1 trillion from Medicaid funding for states. The states would get set amounts, which would cap spending rather than adjusting it for changing needs and new enrollees. Congress is expected to vote on the proposal Friday.

The plan could translate to a $554 million cut in federal Medicaid supports to the Beehive State, say officials with the Utah Health Policy Project, who used reports by the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for their own state-level study.

UHPP says losses over a 10-year period could include:

• $3.2 billion in business activity, as seniors and others spend more on care and less on other goods and services produced in the state;

• 30,369 in related jobs;

• $1.1 billion in worker earnings associated with those job losses.

The cuts could also mean nearly 76,000 more people will be uninsured in Utah, mostly low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities, who together make up 73 percent of the state’s Medicaid recipients.

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