A coalition of Iowa advocacy groups is calling on Senator Chuck Grassley to renew his efforts to shield Medicaid and food stamp programs from deep cuts. Matt Russell is co-chair of Iowa Human Needs Advocates, an alliance of more than 30 Iowa human services groups. Russell says Grassley will be meeting with House members this week to hammer out a joint bill to cut between 35 and 50-billion dollars from the programs.
Russell says Grassley has “stepped up” in the budget process to protect Medicaid beneficiaries and food stamp programs but he says the House proposal would “harm low-income Iowa families in a very significant way.” Russell says the Senate was careful in many instances to avoid cuts that would directly hurt beneficiaries, but the House wants deeper funding cuts.
Russell says “Senator Grassley (will) have a pivotal role in the conference negotiations and we trust he will stick to what he advocated for coming out of the Senate and we trust he will continue to protect food stamps and Medicaid as he did before.” Grassley says he’s optimistic about preserving the various programs and says “I think we’ll get it done.”
Grassley says the Senate Finance Committee he chairs will be working to make sure the Medicaid program has the support of the governors because it’s a federal-state program and “we won’t be doing anything to hurt beneficiaries there.” Grassley says he’s among a group of several senators who signed a letter urging the food stamp funding is maintained.
Grassley says the Senate didn’t follow President Bush’s recommendation and chose to maintain funding to food stamps. The House version supports taking some money from every program. He says funding for the food stamp program comprises about half of all funding to the U-S-D-A.