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Health Care Advocates Slam Trump Administration Proposal To Cut Medicaid

People in Utah protest the state senate's attempt to repeal the voter passed Medicaid expansion.
People in Utah protest the state senate's attempt to repeal the voter passed Medicaid expansion. (Screenshot via YouTube)

“I work in one of the poorest counties in Michigan and my patients depend on expanded Medicaid, so how is that going to affect my patients? It’s been a godsend to the patients I serve. It’s their lifeline.”

Health care advocates slammed the Trump Administration’s newly unveiled plan to channel federal Medicaid funding into block grants, saying it would enable states to cut spending on healthcare and divert federal funds to other state programs and potentially result in millions of people losing coverage.

“Two important things to know about the new Trump Medicaid block grant plan,” tweeted Larry Levitt, the executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “1. It gives states lots of leeway to curtail benefits and restrict coverage. 2. It lowers Medicaid spending by capping federal dollars and encouraging states to spend less by sharing in federal savings.”

There are more than 70 million people currently covered under Medicaid in the United States. The social program primarily covers children, people with disabilities and poor adults.

Axios argues that the Medicaid, which is the biggest item in many states’ budgets, is “the prime target of the Trump administration’s health care agenda.” First, the administration tried to ‘repeal & replace’ the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would have sharply cut the program, then it pushed for work requirements which have caused thousands of people to lose their health insurance without boosting employment, and now through its ‘block grant’ plan that would limit spending in states that receive a waiver from the federal government and allow them to cut benefits.

“People, poor disabled people in particular, are going to die,” tweeted Alice Wong, director of the Disability Visibility Project. “Not an exaggeration.”

Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency physician and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare, confronted Vice President Mike Pence at a restaurant in Iowa about the administration’s new Medicaid plan.

“I work in one of the poorest counties in Michigan and my patients depend on expanded Medicaid, so how is that going to affect my patients? It’s been a godsend to the patients I serve,” Davidson told Pence. “It’s their lifeline.”

1/2 I just ran into @VP Mike Pence at the Drake Diner in Des Moines. I confronted him about his damaging health care cuts because for me it’s not about politics, it’s about saving lives.#DrakeUniversity #IowaCaucus #TrumpRallyIA #MedTwitter pic.twitter.com/LuXQcl9GVn

— Dr. Rob Davidson (@DrRobDavidson) January 31, 2020

Seema Verma, the Trump Administration’s head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is one of the loudest advocates of Medicaid cuts and work requirements. Last year, Verma came under fire from ethics officials for directing millions in taxpayer dollars to consultants and PR firms that seek to influence public opinion regarding health care policy.

“This is an opportunity for states to have greater negotiating power with manufacturers,” Verma said on a conference call with reporters.

Critics argue that the history of similar programs shows that implementing the plan will result in cut spending and people losing coverage.

Others point to Trump’s promise to protect Medicaid, a popular program that consistently polls favorably, and his pledge to bring down drug costs by taking on pharmaceutical and insurance companies that he said were “getting away with murder.” Drug prices and health care costs have continued to rise under his administration, with a record 25% of Americans telling Gallup last month that they or a family member had deferred treatment for a serious medical condition because they couldn’t afford care.

“Trump’s plan will ensure that many working families who are currently covered by Medicaid will face cuts to their services, wait lists for needed care, and the risk of medical debt and bankruptcy from trying to pay for illness,” Public Citizen healthcare policy advocate Eagan Kemp said in a statement. “These further attempts to cut health care are just more evidence that Americans need Medicare for All now to protect their access to care once and for all.”

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a staff writer and assistant editor at Citizen Truth.

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