Medicaid is a public health insurance option for people who have an income below 138% of the federal poverty guidelines (in Medicaid expansion states like California). Medicaid offers comprehensive coverage at no or very low cost including primary and long-term care. Nearly half of the patients at community health centers are covered by Medicaid and health centers cover 16% of Medicaid patients nationally (see the NACHC 2017 Policy Paper).
In the 2017, there were several proposals that threated Medicaid funding and would have cost millions of Americans their healthcare coverage. Fortunately, activists all over the country and across the political spectrum spoke up about why Medicaid coverage was important to them and together helped save this critical program. However, conservative members of congress and the Trump administration are still proposing new ways to dismantle Medicaid and we need to continue to fight back. Below are the latest proposals and news:
Medicaid Work Requirement
CMS Administrator Seema Verma has approved state demonstration projects that require Medicaid recipients age 19-64 to work at least 20 hours a week. The problem is, even though almost all Medicaid recipients that are able to work are already working, this policy would require proof of work or a waiver which complicates the application process and may cause some people who are eligible for coverage to be lost in the buraucracy. Additionally, those that struggle to find work will be further disadvantaged by losing their health care. Working has not been reliably linked to better health, and with the federal minimum wage at $7.25/hour, it isn’t guarenteed to pull people out of poverty either.
2019 Budget Cuts
Due in part to the corporate tax cut passed last year, the federal budget deficit has grown and Republican House representatives are looking to cut funding from Medicaid and Medicare to make up for it. Part of this plan would turn state Medicaid payments into ‘block grants’, similar to one of the Affordable Care Act repeal efforts last summer, and would add a work requirement to Medicaid benefits. This is not likely to be voted on before the November mid-term elections, but is something to watch out for in the near future.