Why Is this Modest Medicaid Reform so Controversial?
Reforms to Medicaid proposed in the Republican-led American Health Care Act have provoked a certain degree of hysteria. Politicians, interest groups, and lobbyists have launched epithets at them ranging from “unsustainable” and “damaging” and have warned that the reforms are the “real death panels” and that “people will die.” A recent report from the Brookings Institution turned up the heat by suggesting that “implementing a Medicaid per-capita cap during the 2000s would have reduced federal Medicaid funding to more than half of states.”
The federal government currently allocates Medicaid money to states according to how much they are themselves able to spend on the program. The AHCA’s proposed caps would limit the amount by which each state is able to automatically claim increases in funding per Medicaid enrollee from federal taxpayers in any particular year.
Taken in context, these proposed caps are extraordinarily modest. Far from threatening “to end Medicaid as we know it,” the per-capita caps would do little to alter the program’s existing commitments, and serve mainly to increase the scrutiny applied to expansions of benefits that states may make in the future.
The Medicaid program was designed to help states meet health care needs they aren’t able to finance by themselves. The poorest states have the largest low-income populations and the greatest unmet medical needs, but they also have....
Christopher Pope is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
This piece originally appeared in STAT News