FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2005
Ross Delivers Opening Remarks in Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing
Committee hearing addresses $10 billion in cuts to Medicaid
(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Rep. Mike Ross (AR-04) Thursday delivered opening remarks in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Full Committee Hearing entitled, "Medicaid: Empowering Beneficiaries on the Road to Reform." In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Ross strongly discouraged fellow members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce from cutting $10 billion to Medicaid, a major health care safety net to 717,000 beneficiaries in Arkansas alone. Below is the text of Ross's remarks.
"Thank you Mr. Chairman. I just want to make some comments after sitting here and listening to a lot of things that have been said this morning.
"Mr. Chairman, we are talking about $10 billion worth of cuts to Medicaid. In the same budget we are talking about $106 billion in tax cuts. Those tax cuts will not be debated in this committee, but they will be debated in this Congress, and last time I checked, we are all members of the 109th Congress. So, it's about priorities. There is a lot of talk these days about faith. Some people talk about it, some try and do something about it. As we go through this debate affecting the poorest among us, I hope all of us will pause for a moment and think about Matthew 25:40, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
"Let me tell you about my America. Half of the children in Arkansas are on Medicaid. Eight out of ten seniors in the nursing homes in Arkansas are on Medicaid. One in five people in my home state of Arkansas are on Medicaid. Now we have 60,000, the number could be larger, we are still trying to figure it out, but we have at least 60,000 of our neighbors from Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Orleans now in Arkansas and many of them are in desperate need of Medicaid.
"Now the gentleman from Oregon talked about the Erectile Dysfunctional Drug and how it's covered by Medicaid. I don't know where the gentleman got his information from, but I can tell you that my wife and I own a small town family pharmacy, and in Arkansas Medicaid does not pay for Erectile Dysfunctional Drugs. Perhaps the gentleman from Oregon is confused because the Medicare Drug Bill that he voted for does cover Erectile Dysfunctional Drugs, but Medicaid in Arkansas does not. In terms of the hair loss drug, I am still trying to get an answer to that question. But, I can tell you this, my wife and I own a pharmacy, and never once has Medicaid paid for a hair loss drug at our pharmacy.
"So, let's get our facts straight as we debate these issues because we are talking about peoples' lives. We are talking about $10 billion in cuts to Medicaid. Medicaid is the health insurance plan for the poor, disabled, and the elderly. In my business and from my home state, I see a lot of poor people, and never once has someone walked up to me and said, 'I like being poor.' As I mentioned, my wife and I own a family pharmacy and we see a lot of sick people. But never once has someone walked through our door and said, 'You know, I just love being sick.' And when you talk about cutting Medicaid $10 billion, it's as if we are going to wake up tomorrow and people are going to quit getting sick or quit being poor.
"This is more about shifting more of the expense to the state. We saw it happen with the end of Federal Revenue Sharing in the early 1980's and poor states like Arkansas simply cannot afford to take on anymore of the burden. This is about shifting more of the burden to the states. Mr. Chairman, I believe that is wrong. Thank you."
Ross is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisdiction over Medicaid.