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Peter’s Take: Trumpcare Medicaid Cuts Are Bad For Virginia

by Peter Rousselot June 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm 0

Peter RousselotPeter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Last Thursday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally unveiled the Senate’s version of Trumpcare.

On Tuesday, faced with a revolt in their own ranks, Senate GOP leaders postponed a vote on their bill until after the July 4 recess.

Virginia political leaders from both parties strongly oppose the Medicaid cuts

Both Republican and Democratic legislators in Virginia have condemned the Senate bill.

Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee chair Chris Jones (R-Suffolk), and state Senate Finance co-chair Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), co-signed a letter to McConnell, noting that his Trumpcare bill:

“fails to address the inequities in the federal funding allocation between states” for the Medicaid program that Virginia has operated in partnership with the federal government for a half-century.

These two Virginia Republican legislative leaders, who also serve as the co-chairs of the Joint Subcommittee for Human Resources Oversight, stated that their subcommittee:

is especially concerned that proposals to impose per-capita caps on federal Medicaid spending would put Virginia at a severe disadvantage because they would base the future federal share on past spending that has been among the lowest in the country and would not take into account measures adopted this year to expand treatment of people with mental illnesses or addictions.

These per-capita caps would cost Virginia’s Medicaid program at least $1.4 billion over seven years.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) also blasted the Trumpcare Medicaid provisions:

Virginia historically has run one of the leanest Medicaid programs in the country, with lower reimbursement rates than many other states. But as a result of the steep cuts to Medicaid in Trumpcare, Virginia would be forced to pick up an additional $900 million in costs for Medicaid over the next ten years in order to maintain the same level of care.

The federal government must continue to finance a major share of Medicaid costs

Although the U.S. Senate’s proposed Trumpcare bill is far worse in this respect, a fundamental flaw in both the Senate and House bills is that Trumpcare’s approach to Medicaid represents a massive and historic retreat by the federal government from supporting healthcare for the most poor and vulnerable:

States would continue to receive extra funding for Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid to more poor adults, but only temporarily. After several years, states wishing to cover that population would be expected to pay a much greater share of the bill, even as they adjust to leaner federal funding for other Medicaid beneficiaries — disabled children, nursing home residents — who are more vulnerable.

It’s appropriate for the federal government to insist that each state have at least “some skin in the game.” However, one of the worst defects in Trumpcare’s approach to Medicaid financing is that it fails to account fairly for the vast differences in median household incomes and poverty rates among the states.

Conclusion

Trumpcare’s latest state’s rights approach is “mean” (h/t Donald Trump).

If enacted, Trumpcare will produce the largest single transfer of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history.

“A basic test of government is its ability to prevent large-scale harm to its citizens’ health and survival. This bill, and this Administration, are failing that test”– Atul Gawande.

This bill is still very much alive. All Virginians should join their political leaders in the fight against this cold-hearted proposal.

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