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Children's Hospital Association calls for no cuts to Medicaid

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As the federal government nears the so-called fiscal cliff, one organization has asked Congress to avoid Medicaid cuts in the federal budget.

The Children's Hospital Association sent letters this week to President Barack Obama as well as Senate and House of Representatives leadership urging them to protect the program from cuts that could affect access to health care for millions of Americans, including 438,000 West Virginians.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a staunch supporter of Medicaid, applauded the association for its move.

"Medicaid is a lifeline for our nation's most vulnerable families and children," Rockefeller said in a statement. "We must not turn our backs on them. We have tough budget decisions to make, and it's essential that we find a real compromise solution."

To Rockefeller, the answer to the nation's debt problems lies in tax increases for the rich. Asking the wealthiest to pay more taxes would relieve the financial burden many people on Medicaid face, he said.

"With more than half of West Virginia children enrolled in Medicaid, we must make sure this program remains strong for our kids," Rockefeller said. "And not only does Medicaid provide essential health care for so many West Virginia children, but it also helps lift families in need out of poverty, is the primary resource for long-term care for the elderly and is a serious job creator across the country. I will stop at nothing to protect this lifeline and the crucial care it provides."