Davis slams Bush budget

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

In the time that it takes to read this opening sentence a child is receiving healthcare due to programs like Medicaid and the S-Chip program.

If President Bush’s proposed budget is passed in its current form, warns U.S. Rep. Artur Davis, children all over the country and Alabama stand to lose their healthcare benefits.

Davis, who represents the seventh congressional district, along with several other healthcare leaders in the Selma area held a press conference at George Washington Carver Homes Monday morning to bring to light the potential loss of benefits for low-income families in the Black Belt.

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Davis said he and his staff discovered that extensive cuts are planned for healthcare, housing and education. The funding for the Community Access Program would be totally eliminated as well as a 73.1 percent cut in training for health professionals, a 39.2 percent cut in rural health services, and a 32.6 percent cut in children’s hospitals’ graduate medical education program.

What this means in layman’s terms, Davis said, is that funding for every facet of the Medicaid program will be affected.

Davis said if the president’s budget is passed as is it would unload another new set of responsibilities on states that are already struggling to meet the responsibilities they have. The budget would change how Medicaid is funded through the states. It would make the states have to take a block grant, which would have to be repaid.

As a consequence of this it would put states in a position in which they would possibly have to cut back funding for low-income health care. In addition, when it comes time for states to pay back the grant they could be forced to cut back the amount of services they provide.

Bob Bashir, a pediatrician from Montgomery, agreed with Davis.

Currently there are almost 400,000 children in Alabama that rely on Medicaid and the S-chip program for healthcare, and they would receive no healthcare at all without these programs.

One of the programs that is in danger of losing its funding altogether is the Rural Health Program. If this happens many children and elderly who don’t have the ability to travel to larger cities on a regular basis will lose the clinics they depend on for health care.

The state’s elderly and children do without today because of the expense of medications and doctors visits with Medicaid what would it be like without these programs.

Funding for housing is also one of the key budget issues. There are cuts that could substantially affect housing for low-income families across the country and Black Belt.

Moss placed a lot of credit for the success of the Selma Housing Authority in the hands of its residents.

Davis’ closing remarks emphasized that the budget should not be allowed to pass in its current form.