Every news outlet has some variation on “top five takeaways from the State of the Union,” mostly dealing with the President’s main points of economic recovery, education, immigration, and tightening of gun laws. He made some great points: saying he will work “with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” the idea of a “college scorecard” to determine the cost-to-value ratio for colleges, and of course “what I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource – our children.”
Obama was speaking about the importance of curbing gun violence which is, no doubt, highly important. What the President didn’t discuss during the State of the Union – or even mention for that matter – was Medicaid.
You can take an optimistic or pessimistic view on this oversight. On the one hand, not mentioning the program means the President isn’t thinking about it in his 2013 priorities and not bringing it up could imply that he didn’t want to bring attention to potential cuts. On the other (and more likely) hand, the President isn’t going to cut Medicaid but didn’t want to bring attention to the LACK of cuts to the program. Most indications point to the latter.
The next step in the in the budget process will be the President releasing his budget recommendations to Congress. It’s already assumed this will be much later than in years past, possibly as late as March. At that point we’ll have a better sense of what’s in store for Medicaid as well as CHGME funding. After that, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chair of the House Budget Committee, will release his budget, which will no doubt suggest extensive Medicaid cuts as well as proposals to convert the program to block grants. But, as we wrote last year, that budget will pass the House but die in the Senate. In addition, for the first time in several years, the Senate is expected to also pass their own budget, which as it will be written by Democrats (as opposed to simply agreeing to the President’s proposal or, more often, not passing a budget at all). No doubt the Senate Democrat proposal will look decidedly different than the one the House passes – but like the House bill, has virtually no chance of becoming law.
For now, we remain vigilant and will keep our eye on the President’s budget. Next month is “Medicaid Matters” month and we’ll providing much more information on ways that you can get involved, and illustrate to Congress the important role that Medicaid plays in the health of the nation’s children.