Trump Is Blocking States From Getting Medicaid Funds To Address Coronavirus

As the spread of coronavirus takes hold across the United States, many are wondering what actions state governments may be able to take in order to ensure the poor are receiving adequate health coverage during this time.

In the past, presidential administrations from both political parties have loosened rules governing the disbursement of Medicaid funds in order to address events such as these, including after the attacks of September 11, Hurricane Katrina, and the H1N1 flu pandemic.

But per reporting from the Los Angeles Times, it appears the Trump administration isn’t ready to make that jump quite yet, for what may be vanity reasons.

President Donald Trump could declare a national emergency under the Stafford Act, for instance, which would allow certain Medicaid agencies to give out waivers making it easier for individuals to apply for the government-run health insurance program.

So far, the president has refused to declare an emergency, however, likely because it would contradict his messaging that the virus will “go away” and that his administration is “doing a great job with it.”

Sara Rosenbaum, a Medicaid expert at George Washington University, explained to the LA Times how the interference could disrupt people from getting adequate care.

“Medicaid could be the nation’s biggest public health responder, but it’s such an object of ire in this administration,” she said. “Their ideology is clouding their response to a crisis.”

Indeed, the situation is more dire, according to health experts, than the president is letting on. Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ on-call doctor, spoke to lawmakers earlier this week during a closed-door meeting, warning them that they should expect some pretty alarming outcomes.

Monahan said that as many as 70 million to 150 million could get infected from COVID-19, Axios reported. Other health experts estimate that between 200,000 to 1.7 million could die as a result.