I'm writing on behalf of St. Anthony Hospital and the patients and communities we serve, to urge Pendleton to write their legislators and ask them to reject cuts in Medicaid or Medicare as part of the Fiscal Year 2006 budget resolution.

While I appreciate the goal of reducing the federal deficit, I believe it is unconscionable to cut programs assisting low-income children and pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly in a budget resolution that also extends tax cuts and increases defense spending.

Proposed reductions in the Medicaid program will result in loss of health care access and coverage for the most vulnerable members of our society who depend on Medicaid as their healthcare safety net.

With a record 45 million uninsured people in the United States, we need to aggressively expand coverage, not erode existing coverage.

In his FY '06 budget proposal, the president did not include cuts in Medicare funding, recognizing the importance of this program to more than 40 million seniors and people with disabilities and the enormous changes to the program that are still being implemented under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act.

Yet, large Medicare reductions have been included in the Budget Resolution developed by the House Budget Committee.

Reform of the Medicaid program may be needed, but changes should be made because they improve the program, not because dollar savings are needed to reduce the deficit.

The Bipartisan Commission on Medicaid Act of 2005" calls for a comprehensive review of the Medicaid program and recommendations for change within one year. Please encourage our legislative leaders to support this legislation as a more appropriate alternative to budget-driven Medicaid cuts.

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