State Rep. Doyle appeals to Congress to save Medicare, Medicaid

2012-11-09T00:00:00Z 2012-11-09T08:56:17Z State Rep. Doyle appeals to Congress to save Medicare, MedicaidBy MIKE TIGHE | La Crosse Tribune

Congress must “grow up and work together” to avert disastrous cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, state Rep. Steve Doyle said Thursday.

“What’s not going on in Washington affects everyone,” the Onalaska Democrat said. “The fallout at the state level ... is the largest impediment to the state budget.”

Doyle made the comments during a news conference at the La Crosse County Administrative Center, at which he and other local officials joined representatives of nursing homes, aging agencies and residents to rally against looming cuts.

Their pleas came a day after President Barack Obama’s first post-election meeting with Republican leaders seeking a deficit-reduction deal to avoid triggering $1.2 trillion in mandatory federal budget cuts Jan. 2.

The reductions, required under a measure Congress passed last year, would cost Medicare and Medicaid billions of dollars.

The slicing would affect not only recipients of the federal Medicare program and the federal-state Medicaid program but also state and local budgets and jobs, said Doyle, who also is a La Crosse County Board member.

For example, Doyle said, a 5 percent cut in Medicaid would result in a $500 million loss to Wisconsin and imperil 5,000 jobs in the health care industry in the state.

“It takes the Wisconsin budget from a surplus to a deficit,” he said.

About 19,000 residents of La Crosse County rely on Medicaid, County Board Chairwoman Tara Johnson said, adding that county nursing homes also depend on the funding.

The $7.1 million that Lakeview Health Center receives from Medicaid accounts for half of the budget for the county-operated West Salem facility, she said. Lakeview has 147 residents and provides the full-time equivalent of 200 jobs.

Hillview Health Care Center, a county facility in La Crosse with 147 residents, gets $6.8 million from Medicaid.

“We’re asking our members of Congress to protect these vital services. We expect them to fight for us,” Johnson said.

“Please go back and find a (budget) solution that protects Medicare and Medicaid for La Crosse County, the state of Wisconsin and Americans,” she said. “Private nursing homes and hospitals also are heavily reliant on these dollars.”

Hillview administrator Pete Eide said in an interview that budget cuts already have strained his facility, which employs 300, many of them part-time.

“Enough is enough,” he said. “The staff does some of the toughest work. We must honor them and pay them decent wages and benefits.”

Additional reductions could force layoffs, he said, adding, “If there are cuts, we no longer can take care of the greatest generation.

“Every nursing home’s budget is razor thin,” he said. “Our goal is to break even, but we need to be properly reimbursed.”

Noreen Holmes, director of the La Crosse County Aging Unit, fears such cuts would eliminate coverage for preventive health care.

“Prevention is better than having to treat illnesses,” she said. “Delaying or preventing nursing home placement will save money.”

“If they are cutting for the sake of saving money, what’s the plan for people already out of money?” she said. “Look toward the future, not just the bottom line.”

Larry Olson a 44-year-old from Onalaska, attended the press conference. He said long-term disabilities prevent him from getting a job and force him to depend on Medicare, Medicaid and Western Wisconsin Cares, an agency that contracts with the state health department to provide services in Buffalo, Clark, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Trempealeau and Vernon counties.

“Western Wisconsin Cares has given me a place to live and help with my medications,” Olson said. “Without them, I’d be facing homelessness.”

Elaina Peterson, 50, of La Crosse also depends on Medicare and Western Wisconsin Cares as she struggles with several debilitating illnesses, including complications from diabetes, a successful battle with cancer and other health problems.

“I would not be here today without those two programs,” she said.

Copyright 2016 La Crosse Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - November 09, 2012 6:07 pm
    Johnny, you have the benefit of knowing who I am. OK. Could you please identify yourself? And could you tell me if anything I said in my response to "Seriously" was wrong?-Chip DeNure aka Buggs Raplin
  2. Redwall
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    Redwall - November 09, 2012 5:13 pm
    What a ridiculous, contrived and crass staged photo op.

    This is a serious issue, however having someone stand with a "No more tax cuts for the rich" sign (note the bottom of the sign it says "AFL-CIO") makes a crass partisan issue out of a serious problem that will only get fixed with a bi-partisan approach.

    How sad. No surprise.

  3. Johnny A
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    Johnny A - November 09, 2012 2:43 pm
    Chip - Despite your beliefs in conspiracy theories, black ops, and general corruption of government, you continue to receive a pension and "cadillac" health insurance benefits, the likes of which most of us will never see, from these same institutions. Maybe you should stage your own protest against the government and refuse your early retirement benefits. At least then your actions would match your words.
  4. lookout
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    lookout - November 09, 2012 12:12 pm
  5. Johnny A
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    Johnny A - November 09, 2012 12:02 pm
    I'd like to point out that I, and I'm sure many other readers, stop reading comments as soon as I see childish name calling (i.e. Head Stupid, Obummers). This applies to all bloggers regardless of their political leanings. Intelligent people are able to convey their opinions without grade-school antics.
  6. Buggs Raplin
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    Buggs Raplin - November 09, 2012 10:00 am
    And your guy expanded the war in Afghanistan, went to war against Libya, and is supplying Al-Qaeda with weaponry in Syria. But none of that matters to so many gullible liberals and progressives.
  7. Seriously Now
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    Seriously Now - November 09, 2012 8:14 am
    Whine, whine, whine! Silly 3rd grade name-calling, screaming a word (Socialism) you can hardly spell. Tea Party, anyone?? How can you all ignore TWO simultaneous WARS that accomplished NOTHING and were started by your side? Try focusing on the REAL reason we are broke, before I start calling you a bunch of "roadside bums" or IEDs (intellectually, experientially deficit).
  8. lookout
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    lookout - November 09, 2012 7:50 am
    I've rad fact like you write here, but they say this program will save us money. Now who do you believe? The only way to find out is to let it happen. Another thing. It's a fact people die sooner when they don't have healthcare. The only thing a hospital or doctor is required it do, when looking at a person who has a health problem that may kill them. Make them comfortable and send them home. If you don't have the money, or insurance, when your extremely ill, you will die, if
  9. lookout
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    lookout - November 09, 2012 7:41 am
    Sorry, but your wrong. This country, our country, ranks 37th in the world for healthcare. The fact that other countries have better healthcare than we do, really has to tell you something. Stop believing stuff our politicans spout off at us, just to make it seem like their doing this country a big favor by hiring them. There are alot of things this country is behind in, but you won't hear that from our god like politicans. We've been behind on alot of things for a long time. There are no long lines waiting to see a doctor in other countries, people aren't going bankrupt, because of healthcare bills. Right now, in this country, I waited 5 weeks, before I could get a shot in my spine to help stop the pain. That doesn't happen in some of the other countries republicans say are so bad.
  10. retiredone
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    retiredone - November 09, 2012 7:06 am
    The Head Stupid in the White House thinks that more taxes on weathy will solve much of the shortfall for Medicare/Medicaid. The math does NOT show that to be true. Still Head Stupid will take funds out of Medicare/Medicaid which places like local nursing homes and hospitals desparately need to maintain staff levels to give good care to seniors. No wonder people like Doyle, who I personally do not like, are calling for a grown up solution. Cutting reimbursement to municipal and non profit care facilities apparently is a hallmark of Head Stupids way to fund Nobummercare. Sort of like robbing Peter to pay Paul?? If this is Obummers "hall mark" legislation, then those with family in care facilites can send their complaints directly to Head Stupid at the White House. And, there will be fallout in the local health care industry including the LOSS of jobs.
  11. JS
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    JS - November 09, 2012 6:11 am
    Medicaid is the biggest budget buster of them all. The last state budget the only area that we added a $billion was for health and human services (HH&S), which includes medicaid.

    Many governors from Democrats to Republicans, Dayton in MN and Walker have admitted that by 2020 Medicaid is going to eat up both budgets. Ten years ago in Wisconsin we spent 10% of our state budget on HH&S, today it is up to over 40%. We spend more on this than we do on education.

    Now with the national expansion of medicaid under the new healthcare law, the CBO projects by 2020 states will have an additional $200 Billion in costs. Unlike the federal government, 49 of the 50 states have to balance their budgets. Not only that, they also need to fund services like education. transportation, and public safety.

    These rising entitlement costs are projected to have over 40 trillion in unfunded liabilities. 20 times more than the two wars cost (note some repubs, including myself, didn't agree with the iraq war).
  12. ShudaElectedBigJimmy
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    ShudaElectedBigJimmy - November 09, 2012 5:26 am
    When you vote for European Style Socialism, you get European style medical care and under staffing at medical centers. Welcome to the fundamental transformation of Amerika! Oct.31, 2008 - Candidate BHO
  13. Napoleon
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    Napoleon - November 09, 2012 2:29 am
    How to save Medicare/Medicaid: cross out the word "Medicare." Replace it with this: "AIG," then wait for Congress to do its magic. Problem solved!

    Moyers & Company, Show 141: Plutocracy Rising
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