Congressman John Salazar Reacts To President's Budget Request
U.S. Rep. John Salazar (CO-3) released the following statement regarding the President's budget request severely cutting funding by $75 billion to Medicare and $26 billion to Medicaid programs over five years, by underfunding veterans' health care programs, and by privatizing Social Security.
"The budget cuts on domestic programs that support American families are overwhelming. In particular, the cuts to health care only hurt rural families in Colorado. It is difficult enough to encourage doctors and health care providers to set up shop outside of the city, but keeping them there is the bigger challenge. An example of this can be found in Durango, Colorado, where Valley-Wide Health Systems, a primary health care provider serving Medicaid and Medicare patients, is shutting its doors in March because they can't afford to stay open. This means that more than 10,000 residents will go without health care, and due to the low reimbursement rates Medicare and Medicaid offer, the other medical providers in the area can't afford to take additional patients.
"I have met with Colorado's governor to discuss other types of funding, but they are only temporary solutions. This problem can't be fixed overnight, but making more cuts to a failing health care system will only make this problem worse. My rural district can't afford to have any more medical providers pack up and leave because they can't afford to stay.
"As a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, I have fought to increase health care services for our soldiers who suffer through the physical and psychological traumas of war. The President's plan increases spending to approximately $34.2 billion for health care, which is only a six percent increase over the 2007 budget of $32.3 billion.
"The Department of Veterans Affairs, however, has testified in the past that they require a minimum annual increase of at least 13 percent to meet the rising costs from medical associations so once again we fall short. This administration needs to recognize that providing for our veterans and military families is a continuing cost of war.
"The President's proposal to put Social Security trust fund dollars into private accounts will force deep cuts to Social Security's guaranteed benefits. Throwing your retirement fund into the volatile stock market is fiscally irresponsible."
On the other hand, Salazar commended the president for supporting the Animas-LaPlata project.
"I applaud the President for increasing funding for the Animas La-Plata project by $1 million for fiscal year 2008, bringing the total funding to $58 million. This money will go to the continued construction of the Ridges Basin Dam and Durango pumping plant, which will provide water to southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. In the past, I have urged the administration to increase the funding even higher. The faster we fund and complete this project, the more money we save in the long run because of rising fuel and concrete costs. This would be the fiscally responsible thing to do.
"There is a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks. I look forward to working with the president and Congress on a budget that best serves the interests of Colorado's 3rd Congressional District."