NJ Senators: Bush Healthcare Budget 'Bas Medicine' For Garden State

NJ Senators: Bush Healthcare Budget 'Bas Medicine' For Garden State

New Jersey lawmakers release analysis of Bush budget impact on Garden State healthcare

Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today released their assessment of the Bush healthcare budget and its impact on the Garden State. The lawmakers said the president's proposed budget would jeopardize healthcare coverage for 30,000 New Jersey children and would impose higher premiums on Medicare and Medicaid patients statewide.

"In a day when health care costs are increasingly out of reach for hard-working families, it's incredible that President Bush proposes a budget that could jeopardize the healthcare coverage of 30,000 New Jersey children," said Menendez. "This is just wrong and it illustrates how misguided the president's budget priorities are. During the budget process, I will work to ensure that New Jersey families continue to receive the healthcare coverage and services they need."

"Just as millions of baby boomers start to retire and the number of children with no health insurance hits a new high, the president wants to cut Medicare, Medicaid and vital healthcare services for children. That's a bad prescription for America," said Lautenberg. "As a member of the health appropriations subcommittee, I will work to make sure Congress provides appropriate resources for the healthcare needs of those New Jerseyans who need it."

The Bush budget calls for almost $100 billion in spending reductions in Medicare and Medicaid over five years. For New Jersey, this means increasingly more individuals will be required to pay higher premiums. Furthermore, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and home health agencies will receive lower reimbursements making it even harder to provide care for those in need. New Jersey hospitals stand to lose more than $41 million in 2008 and $656 million over five years under these steep spending cuts.

New Jersey's successful State Children's Health Insurance Program, FamilyCare, covers more than 500,000 low-income children and provides parents of 80,000 New Jersey children with affordable health care. Unfortunately, the president's proposal falls $10 billion short of what is needed just to continue covering those who are currently enrolled. In addition, it limits the scope of eligibility for SCHIP participants, which could cause 30,000 children in New Jersey to lose health coverage.

America's public health workforce shortage is worsening, and this budget will only exacerbate that shortage. Instead of helping to diversify the health workforce and attract talented individuals to under-served areas, this budget cuts $44 million from the Nurse Training Program and $135 million from the Health Professions Training Program. In addition, it puts New Jersey's Medicaid Graduate Medical Education program in jeopardy, which leverages an annual $20 million investment for 24 New Jersey hospitals.

Menendez and Lautenberg, both members of the Senate Budget Committee, pledged to work within the Congressional budget process to ensure New Jerseyans are not forced to endure the major healthcare cuts proposed by President Bush.

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