PARKERSBURG - Forty-one Democratic U.S. senators, including Jay Rockefeller, have pledged their opposition against efforts to cut Medicaid funding.
In the Republican-backed budget proposal from Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Ryan has proposed to finance Medicaid through block grants to the states and reducing spending by more than $770 billion in the next decade.
The Democratic senators have sent a letter to President Obama opposing block grants, caps or the elimination or reduction of Medicaid coverage, Rockefeller,, among the strongest supporters of Medicaid in the Senate, announced on Thursday.
"Medicare and Social Security have been declared off the table in deficit negotiations but Medicaid suddenly looks like the sacrificial lamb," Rockefeller said. "I say absolutely no."
Medicaid serves 68 million low-income citizens, 320,000 of those in West Virginia.
Rockefeller cited a survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation that said most Americans are against changing Medicaid to a block grant system.
Republicans support changing Medicaid to a voucher program to reduce the deficit.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller said the plan would force state and local governments to pay the difference or cut services, placing an added financial burden onto recipients to pay more or risk losing health care coverage.
Half of the respondents had a friend or family who has received Medicaid assistance.
"With the number of uninsured growing in the nation due to the economic recession and the growing need for health care services of an aging population, we should take steps to stabilize and improve health coverage rather than undermine it and undo the promise of health reform in this nation," the letter said.
Senators co-signing the Rockefeller letter were Patrick Leahy, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, John F. Kerry, Daniel K. Inouye, Daniel K. Akaka, Barbara A. Mikulski, Benjamin L. Cardin, Barbara Boxer, Jeff Bingaman, Al Franken, Mary L. Landrieu, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, Robert Menendez, Frank R. Lautenberg, Charles E. Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, Sheldon Whitehouse, Robert P. Casey, Jr., Jack Reed, Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, Tim Johnson, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Bernard Sanders, Bill Nelson, Mark Begich, Christopher A. Coons, Richard J. Durbin, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Harkin, Jon Tester, Herb Kohl, Carl Levin and Tom Udall.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, and Amy Klobuchar sent separate letters.