Massachusetts governor seeks coalition against Medicaid cuts – News & Observer

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says he wants to find a coalition of fellow governors and U.S. senators from both parties to push back against deep cuts to Medicaid being proposed by President Donald Trump and House Republicans.

Under Trump’s budget proposal, Medicaid spending would fall from 2 percent of the economy to 1.7 percent in 2027 — a decrease that adds up to more than $600 billion over 10 years.

Those cuts would come on top of more than $800 billion in Medicaid cuts in the House-passed health care bill.

Baker said the Medicaid cuts in the House bill alone could cost Massachusetts about $1 billion starting in 2020 and grow over time to $1.5 billion — putting at risk health insurance for between 400,000 and 500,000 people.

“You can’t peel over a trillion dollars out of the Medicaid program at the federal level and not to expect to have huge consequences for all states, including this one,” the governor told reporters Thursday.

Baker said he’d like to find a coalition “that wants to work on solving some of the things that Democrats and Republicans in Washington over the course of the past few years have all said are concerning about the way the Affordable Care Act works without throwing literally hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts and millions of people around the country off of their current coverage.”

“It’s my hope that that kind of conversation can be had in the Senate,” Baker added.

Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law. The House narrowly approved their version of a replacement bill. The Senate has yet to vote on a bill.

While Baker calls the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation “the voice of Massachusetts in the nation’s capital,” some local health care advocates are hoping the fact that Baker is a Republican could help him reach out to fellow Republicans in the GOP-controlled House and Senate.

Representatives from several health care advocacy groups gathered outside Baker’s Statehouse office Thursday to publicly thank him for his efforts.

Baker also said he is concerned about proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health. Trump’s budget would cut funding for the premier medical research agency by 18 percent, to $26 billion.

That could hurt Massachusetts, which relies on NIH grants to help fuel its burgeoning life sciences and biotechnology sectors.

“I’m a big believer that the NIH has been one of the best investments this nation’s ever made,” Baker said, pointing to what he said was the groundbreaking work that has led to cures and therapies for all sorts of illnesses, diseases and epidemics.

“I think that’s a place where the federal government should be investing,” he added.

Baker’s not alone.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren this week released a 59-page report detailing some of the research funded in Massachusetts with NIH grants.

The Massachusetts Democrat said more than two dozen universities, hospitals, labs, biomedical companies, industry organizations and patients contributed to the report.

“To keep making progress toward critical health care breakthroughs and to stay on the cutting-edge of research, we must protect and strengthen federal investments in the NIH,” Warren said in a statement accompanying the report. “The cuts proposed by President Trump make no sense, and they must never become law.”

Other members of the Massachusetts delegation echoed Baker’s concerns.

Rep. Joe Kennedy pointed to a report by the Congressional Budget Office that said the House Republican’s health care bill would leave 23 million more Americans without insurance.

“TrumpCare destroys the fundamentally American promise that we care for each other in our time of need,” Kennedy said.

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