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Letter urging the Senate to support the Medicaid rules moratorium

April 28, 2008

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to support H.R. 5613, Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008. Votes associated with this bill may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

Medicaid is the single largest component of state spending — nearly one-fifth of general fund expenditures. Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets. Consequently, when declining revenues lead to budgetary shortfalls, they must pare even essential services such as education and health care. By the end of this fiscal year, more than half the states will be in the red and contemplating such cuts due to deteriorating economic conditions and the consequent drop in state and local revenues available for public education and other essential services.

H.R. 5613 would place a one-year moratorium on Administration-backed regulatory changes in the Medicaid program, some of which threaten the provision of essential health services to the most vulnerable among us: low-income children and children with disabilities. Since 1986, federal Medicaid policy has explicitly recognized the link between Medicaid and healthcare for low-income children, including management of — and access to — treatment in school settings. Cutting Medicaid payments to schools would jeopardize the ability of students to receive needed school-based healthcare and could force students to remain at home rather than attending school. The proposed changes also threaten the ability of schools to use Medicaid administrative funds for outreach to enroll Medicaid-eligible children.

The House passed H.R. 5613 by a vote of 349-62 on April 23, 2008. Now, the ball is in the Senate’s court. Please vote to close debate, then to pass the bill and send it to the President to sign into law.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy