Press

NGLTF Statement In Opposition To New Medicaid Legislation

Date: 
June 07, 1996

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) joins with other organizations in condemning Republican proposals to dismantle the federal Medicaid program.

Melinda Paras, Executive Director of NGLTF, called 0the Republican Medicaid proposals "cold-hearted" and "brutal" since it would cut at the heart of the safety net programs which both Democratic and Republicans have supported in the past. "The Republican proposals would gut the Medicaid program in a way which would have a devastating impact on people for whom Medicaid provides the only access to health care. The proposals allow states to restrict eligibility and limit benefits in a way which will clearly result in hardships for millions of poor people. Because of inadequate payments to health providers under the proposals, public hospitals would have to cut back or discontinue services to those who have no where else to turn to for health services," Paras explained.

The answer to skyrocketing health care costs is health care reform, noted Paras, not taking away access to the health care system for the poor and disabled, including people with AIDS and those who are HIV+. "It's a cruel irony indeed that the very people who worked against health care reform in the last Congress are the very people leading the charge today to destroy the infrastructure relied on by those with no other access to the health care system."

The Republican Proposals

The primary and most drastic change in the proposals introduced by the House and Senate leadership (H.R. 3507, S. 1795) would include turning almost all of the federal Medicaid program over to the states, in the form of block grants, and giving them virtual discretion on who would receive Medicaid benefits. In addition, the plan could result in cuts of about $250 billion in projected federal and state Medicaid spending over the next six years. These proposals would have a devastating effect on people with AIDS, who can least afford to absorb these losses.

Medicaid is the major health insurance for at least 40% of all persons living with AIDS and up to 90% of children with AIDS and it pays for the prescription drugs relied on by individuals who are HIV+ and those with AIDS. Without Medicaid coverage, thousands of peopole with Aids would lose their access to the health care system.

Under the Republican proposals, there is no guarantee to benefits nor a definition of what benefits an eligible individual could receive. There would be 50 different state definitions of "people with disabilities" who could receive assistance and 50 different benefit packages. In other words, people who are HIV+ and those with AIDS would have no guarantee that they would continue to have access to the health care system, including the prescription drugs which for many are their best hope for a longer and better quality of life.

Another critical problem with the Medicaid proposals is that states could force beneficiaries into managed care plans which need not demonstrate their ability to provide services for chronically ill populations, including people living with HIV/AIDS.

"These proposals demonstrate a callous disregard for people who can't afford private insurance," concluded Paras.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.