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Risch Addresses Medicaid Changes in Health Care

Speaks on Senate Floor about Fiscal Impact to States

December 14, 2009

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Jim Risch spoke from the Senate floor today, pointing out the devastating impact the health care reform bill would have on states and their Medicaid programs.

Medicaid provides health care services to low-income and disabled individuals and families with the Federal government paying a percentage of the costs and states picking up the remaining portion. In Idaho that remaining portion comes to 30 percent of costs. Under the health care reform bill now in the Senate, states would be required to dramatically expand their Medicaid coverage, placing an even larger burden on states.

"This is going to be a tax increase. It's not included anywhere. It's not talked about anywhere. But there is no way the states can deal with this except with massive tax increases or massive cuts in education," said Risch. "Most states, like Idaho, about two-thirds of the budget is spent on Education and about 10 percent is in public safety and about 20 percent on social services. Unless you have been a governor, you can't understand how difficult it is to control what has become an expanding black hole on Medicaid."

Risch also referenced a conference call he participated in with governors from across the nation. "I didn't need to talk because there was great bipartisan support for killing this bill. And the most vocal people were Democrats. The most vocal governors were Democrats saying we cannot tolerate this kind of increase, and that's what's going to happen under this bill."

The U.S. Senate is planning on taking up amendments to the health care reform bill in the coming days.