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Washington D.C. – Today, a coalition of nearly 400 national, state, and local children’s advocacy organizations have joined together to express their deep concern to Congressional leaders about the proposal to drastically reduce funding for the Medicaid program as outlined in the fiscal year 2012 Budget Resolution released last week. The group urged leaders in the House of Representatives to protect children from harm in the Budget Resolution.

The FY 2012 budget, drafted under the direction of Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), proposes to end the Medicaid entitlement, instead providing fixed-dollar-amount funding to states through a new federal block grant system. Block grants would essentially cap the amount of federal money provided to states for Medicaid, resulting in significant underfunding of the program in the coming years. With savings estimated at $771 billion over ten years, it is a near certainty that funding for states would be far lower than under the current financing system, jeopardizing coverage and protections currently guaranteed for children and other vulnerable populations. This is combined with an estimated loss of $582 billion in state matching funds for an overall reduction of $1.35 trillion to Medicaid.

“Without a doubt, the Ryan budget would have a devastating effect on the health and well-being of the approximately 30 million children who rely on Medicaid to have their basic health needs met,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy group. “By every measure, Medicaid is a cost-effective and essential lifeline for children, who constitute about 50 percent of the beneficiaries, but only 20 percent of the costs.

“Under the block grant system, states would receive fewer federal funds and be forced to contribute more of their own resources in order to avoid limiting coverage for children. Given the current budget challenges, this would be impossible for most states. Furthermore, block grants actually limit state flexibility by taking away a state’s ability to meet the needs of their citizens during times of crisis – including events like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the recent economic recession. Under the Ryan plan states would have to bear 100 percent of the added cost. Block grants may look good on a budget ledger but the savings they bring in come from reducing coverage for those who are vulnerable.

“Furthermore, the Ryan budget effectively repeals funding beyond 2013 for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a program which provides health coverage to more than 7 million children and has the support of 82% of the American public. Chairman Ryan’s budget would fundamentally threaten the health of millions of American children. We urge Congress to declare the Ryan proposal dead on arrival.”

In a letter delivered yesterday to Speaker Boehner, Minority Leader Pelosi, Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Van Hollen the coalition of organizations wrote “Instead of draconian cuts that will disrupt health care coverage for millions of American children, we urge the committee to seek more efficient, cost-effective ways to address the budget deficit. Keeping children healthy is not just the right thing to do, it is critical if our nation is to have a workforce that is healthy and prepared to meet the challenges of the future.”

The letter was organized by First Focus, the Children’s Defense Fund, Family Voices, theNational Assembly on School Based Health Care, and Voices for America’s Children, is and signed by a broad coalition of 384 organizations.

Lesley added, “Providing our children with the health care they need to grow up healthy is not just the right thing to do, it is critical if our nation is to have a workforce that is healthy and prepared to meet the challenges of the future. We urge our nation’s leaders on both sides of the aisle to protect children from harm as they work to find solutions to our budget problems.”