The Trump administration has confirmed as part of their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare they will be cutting for 7.4 million poor, seniors, and disabled Americans by converting Medicaid into a block grant program.
Kellyanne Conway tried to sell the block grants as a good thing, “Those who are closest to the people in need will be administering it. You really cut out the fraud, waste and abuse, and you get the help directly to them.”
Block grants do give more power to the states, but they also cap what federal government spends, and will allow many to provide the bare minimum of health care coverage for nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) explained that the Republican block grant argument is a disguise that conservates use to cover up funding cuts, “Medicaid provides vital medical assistance to 74 million people nationwide, including more than 2.2 million in Michigan – covering nursing care for seniors, community-based services for Americans living with disabilities, and everything from immunizations to critical care for low-income children and families. History tells us that turning this program into a block grant, under the guise of increasing state flexibility, is just another way to cut Medicaid’s funding. This not only threatens states like Michigan that have increased Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but it also jeopardizes the entire program’s long-time support for vulnerable populations. We cannot allow this assault on our values to prevail.”
The consequences of the Medicaid program being turned into a block grant is that some people will lose their healthcare, while others will have less health care.
A 2014 Center for Budget and Policy Priorities report on the Ryan Medicaid block grant plan concluded funding would be cut by 26%. A 2012 Urban Institute study of block granting Medicaid found that states would drop 14.3 million to 20.5 million people from Medicaid by the tenth year of the block grant. This number does not include the millions who lose their health insurance when the ACA is repealed, and the Medicaid expansion is gone.
Millions of people highly concentrated in red states will lose their health care in the first year of block granting. At best, these people will have less healthcare. Historically, programs that are turned into block grants get their funding cut by 25%-51%.
The block grant is not a good thing because it will result in millions of poor, disabled, and elder Americans losing access to their healthcare on top of the tens of millions who are going to be harmed by Obamacare repeal.
President Trump continues to find new ways to hurt those Americans who at the bottom of the economic ladder.