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Cleveland.com: Ohio Democrats decry Trump administration Medicaid change

Cleveland.com: Ohio Democrats decry Trump administration Medicaid change

Sabrina Eaton | Cleveland.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Democrats including Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Thursday criticized a new Trump administration Medicaid plan as a backdoor way to cut the program’s spending and jeopardize health care for the people it covers.
 
The director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma, described her agency’s new Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative as a "groundbreaking new policy” that would provide “an innovative and historical approach to surmounting Medicaid’s structural challenges.”
 
She said Medicaid coverage expansions that were part of the Affordable Care Act have escalated its costs, crowding out other priorities and threatening state budgets. Verma said states that have tried to craft innovative Medicaid programs have been thwarted by a rigid federal bureaucracy that’s too focused on process instead of outcomes and doesn’t address the needs of beneficiaries. The new program will give states unprecedented flexibility to alter their programs in exchange for greater management accountability and demonstrating real results, she said.
 
She said states aren’t obliged to participate in the new block grant program, and it won’t let states strip benefits or limit eligibility.
 
“This is an invitation for states to work with us to make Medicaid more flexible, more person centered and more focused on improving the health of those it serves,” added Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
 
A spokesperson for Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman said he’s "received the administration’s Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative for Medicaid and will thoroughly review the proposal.”
 
A statement from Brown called the Medicaid block granting “short sighted,” and said it would limit Ohio’s ability to fight public health crises like addiction and maternal mortality. It said that if Trump successfully implements the block grand funding plan, it will limit the amount of funding states like Ohio can receive from the federal government to cover health care expenses covered by Medicaid expansion.
 
He noted that more than 600,000 Ohioans have now have health care coverage because of that expansion, and denounced President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress for pursuing policies that “undermine Ohioans’ health care and put health coverage at risk.”
 
 
“We should be working to expand health care and health resources for Ohio families, not restrict them,” Brown’s statement said.
 
A statement that Warrensville Heights Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge posted on Twitter described the block grant proposal as "nothing more than a despicable attempt to strip health care from vulnerable citizens.
 
“Whether it’s cuts to Medicaid, SNAP, or affordable housing, this Administration has been fully engaged in a war on people in need,” Fudge continued.
 
Niles-area Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan called it “disgraceful” in his own Twitter statement.
 
“President Trump continues to try and break our nation’s health care system,” said Ryan. “Now he wants to cut coverage for our friends and neighbors most in need?”
 
Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur called Trump’s proposal, “a radical betrayal of the most vulnerable Americans, including millions of children and older adults.” She said it will allow states to undermine the delivery of care for more than 71 million people currently on Medicaid and its affiliate the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
 
“President Trump flipped the tables on the Republican establishment when he campaigned on protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; but now – just as we expected – President Trump has fallen in line with conservative orthodoxy and signaled that these important programs could be slashed to foot the bill for his disastrous tax cut bill,” said an email from Kaptur.
 
A statement from the National Women’s Law Center noted that converting Medicaid funding into block grants was a central part of Congress’ failed 2017 effort to replace the Affordable Care Act. The center also cited reports that indicated expanding Medicaid coverage improves health outcomes and greatly reduces the burden on states to fill in private health care system gaps.
 
“This guidance is nothing more than a Medicaid cut disguised as Medicaid reform,” said the center’s director, Dorianne Mason. “Ignoring the widespread support and need for expanded Medicaid coverage, President Trump and Director Verma have instead revived their failed plan to slash health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans.”
 
Alliance of Community Health Plans President and CEO Ceci Connolly said the block grant conversion would reduce the ability of states to provide health services and restrict millions of Americans’ access to affordable care.
 
“Using block grants would not allow states to weather pressures on spending at the state level or to adequately account for economic and population changes," said a statement from Connolly. "Current financing provides needed stability and allows states the flexibility to innovate to address the social needs of residents and improve health outcomes in the long run. Further, evidence continues to show the positive impact of Medicaid expansion on the health and well being of millions of Americans.
 
“ACHP member plans are leaders in delivering integrated value-based care models in the Medicaid program. As a result of possible spending changes, the significant investments by ACHP member plans to improve coordinated care for Medicaid recipients could be lost.”