HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) says the Republican version of the fiscal 2012 budget—which will be released next month—will call for $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid funding over 10 years. Ryan has also said his party plans to reduce Medicare outlays as well.

This proposal runs counter to the healthcare reform law, which contains a major expansion of the program, and boosts the GOP’s efforts to defund elements of the new health law. Opponents to the GOP’s proposed cuts warn they could have devastating effects on the nation’s elderly, working poor, children and the disabled.

Obama administration officials have been fighting back, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defending the CLASS Act—a federally funded disability and long-term care insurance program—before a Senate Appropriations health sub-committee hearing Wednesday. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) told Sebelius he objects to the administration’s plan to spend $93.5 million to create greater program awareness.

Sebelius responded since broad enrollment is necessary for its success, “outreach efforts are absolutely essential to engage the employer community and to engage citizens to make them aware of the program,” BNA reported. Sebelius cited survey findings indicating that adults reaching Medicare age mistakenly believe that the entitlement program covers long-term care.