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Unbalanced Budget Priorities: Congressional & NGA Attempts To Reform Medicaid

June 4, 1996

NMAC Opposes the "Medicaid Restructuring Act of 1996"

Washington, D.C. -- The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) is strongly opposed to efforts by Congress and the National Governor's Association (NGA) to reform Medicaid.

The "Medicaid Restructuring Act of 1996" provides States with complete flexibility in determining the amount, scope and duration of health care services for people living with HIV/AIDS. No longer will there be a guarantee of care for the most vulnerable people in our society - people who are sick, disabled and dying from HIV/AIDS. Efforts to continue the war against AIDS will be undermined by misguided, short-sighted efforts to save money. The "Medicaid Restructuring Act of 1996" cannot replace adequate investments in preventative care, long-term care, outpatient prescription drug coverage and other services that improve the quality and duration of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. The proposal would:

  • Set unlimited cost sharing that would price services and benefits out of reach for many beneficiaries
  • Restrict the private right to action
  • Limit doctor visits and prescription drug benefits

"The proposal undermines a federal guarantee of health care coverage for disabled people, including those living with HIV/AIDS," said Miguelina Maldonado, NMAC's Director of Government Relations and Policy. "States would now be free to define the term 'disability' as it relates to Medicaid. It is conceivable that people living with HIV/AIDS might be excluded from Medicaid benefits in states where they were previously eligible."

"Medicaid is the largest single payer of medical services for people living with HIV/AIDS and any attempts at reform must acknowledge that reality" added Margaret Burton-Owens, Policy Analyst at NMAC. Further, she added, "it really says alot about the nation's unbalanced priorities when we spend $5 billion every week, $700 million a day, $500,000 a minute, and $8,000 a second on the military budget, but use the Medicaid program as a scapegoat for failed tax and defense policies. Medicaid is part of a flawed system of health care delivery in need of genuine reform. "

"It would be unconscionable for the President or Congress to support this proposal," stated Paul Kawata, NMAC's Executive Director. "This proposal could result in denial of health care benefits and services and thus threaten the lives of many people of color. It is just another example of how people of color, particularly those living with HIV/AIDS, are being asked to bear the burden of balancing the federal budget."

The National Minority AIDS Council was formed in 1987 to develop leadership within communities of color to address issues of HIV infection. Its members are community-based organizations that deal with AIDS on the front lines -- in hospitals and clinics, shelters and schools, storefronts and streets. Thousands of men and women of color rely on such organizations for outreach, care, education, housing and support services. NMAC's goals are to lend visibility, leadership, educational messages and materials, comprehensive technical assistance and a powerful national voice to these front line AIDS workers.

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This article was provided by National Minority AIDS Council. Visit NMAC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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