WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a possible House vote this week on Republican’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Connecticut’s Medicaid providers, advocates, and consumers are making a last-ditch effort to call for changes to the American Health Care Act.
The broad Connecticut coalition said the proposed changes to the Medicaid program under the GOP legislation will hurt Connecticut’s Medicaid enrollees and the economy.
“All of these proposals are designed to reduce federal support to state Medicaid programs, not to better serve Americans who rely on Medicaid,” the group wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Medicaid block grants and per capita caps would improve rigid limits on the amount of federal money available to states for Medicaid, endangering the health and well-being of Medicaid enrollees throughout our state. They also would severely damage Medicaid’s role as a cornerstone of our state economy.”
They pointed out that Connecticut’s Medicaid program has been a success.
Its administrative costs are only about 5 percent of total costs and on average Connecticut has achieved an almost 2 percent per person, per month reduction in costs over a four year period. That amounts to about $200 million in savings.
“Proof that our system is a sustainable success,” the group concluded.
Arc of Connecticut, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Connecticut Legal Services, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Connecticut State Medical Society, and the Connecticut Association of Healthcare Facilities, are just a few of the organizations who signed onto the letter.
Connecticut was the first and one of 31 states and the District of Columbia to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
The current version of the Republican legislation would end expansion in 2020 and fund Medicaid by per capita caps, instead of an open-ended agreement.
In Connecticut, Medicaid serves 770,000 residents. That’s 21 percent of the state population. It includes nearly 460,000 parents and children, over 92,000 older adults and people with disabilities, and over 217,000 individuals ages 19-64 who are considered the expansion population. One in five births statewide are to mothers covered by Medicaid, according to state officials.
“Reduction of the federal share of Medicaid funding in Connecticut by thirty or more percent through block granting or other means, and/or elimination of the authority and funding for Medicaid eligibility expansion, will cripple our program,” Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, said in a letter Feb. 24. “Like many of our sister states Connecticut would find it nearly impossible to make up the loss of this essential federal partnership. The necessary, and entirely preventable, results would be a severe contraction in eligibility and benefits that would have devastating economic and human costs.”
Malloy wrote his letter before the Republicans publicly released details of the American Health Care Act, but his predictions about what it would include were accurate.
Republican Govs. John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Brian Sandoval of Nevada, and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas wrote McConnell and Ryan last Thursday and told them that the House bill “provides almost no new flexibility for states, does not ensure the resources necessary to make sure no one is left out, and shift significant new costs to states.”
The four Republican governors said they support reforming Medicaid, but believe Congress should first focus on stabilizing the private insurance market.
It’s still unclear if the House bill will have enough support in the Senate where at least four Republican Senators have expressed concern. Republicans can only afford to lose two members in the Senate and still pass the bill.
The Medicaid program currently costs the federal government around $370 billion annually.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would increase the number of people without health insurance by 24 million by 2026, while reducing spending by $337 billion during that time.