October 25, 2011

October 25, 2011
House to vote on Paring Down Medicaid Expansion

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you are having a safe and great week so far. It is another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

The House will vote next week on legislation that will prevent as many as 1 million middle income Americans from becoming eligible for Medicaid under the healthcare reform law, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced Friday.

The Medicaid eligibility bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), is the last bill on the leader's weekly schedule. It cuts the deficit by about $13 billion over 10 years and is expected to pass with bipartisan support. The health law currently counts only the taxable portion of Social Security benefits when calculating Medicaid eligibility, allowing up to a million middle income early retirees to potentially be eligible for a program meant to help low income people. Black's bill would replace the healthcare law's Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) with the standard, more restrictive eligibility standard for federal assistance programs.

Black said her bill was a matter of fairness during mark up in the Ways and Means Committee last week. It cleared the panel 23-12, with Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) voting with Republicans.

Without the change, Black said then, the law could result in individuals, whose incomes are up to 425 percent of the poverty level, receiving Medicaid. This is unacceptable. Many Democrats have concerns, however.

They point out that the MAGI definition was chosen to create a seamless transition between eligibility for Medicaid and for insurance subsidies under the health law. By counting Social Security benefits as income, Black's bill tightens the eligibility standard not only for Medicaid but for private plan subsidies as well.

During markup, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) called the Black bill Republicans first step on the slippery slope to limit middle class Americans ability to claim certain deductions for retirement security, college tuition expenses or even adoption assistance.

So we all need to stay alert and contact our elected officials and make our voices heard.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab