In the days after the 2016 election, we have thought long and hard about likely targets with a new administration and Congress. We see a new war on the poor with the first target being access to essential healthcare.
Medicaid is the principal program that provides access to medical care to the poor in Illinois. Since 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, Medicaid has been a remarkable program, providing life-saving healthcare for low-income Americans. And, the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA or ObamaCare) expanded Medicaid to single, childless adults living at or near poverty.
- There is no way to sugar coat this—the looming cuts will be devastating. Some facts about Medicaid and the ACA:
Medicaid provides access to health care for 70 million Americans.
- Medicaid is the single largest insurer for our children and many of our nation’s most chronically-ill members depend on Medicaid for health coverage.
Medicaid is the largest source of insurance coverage for people living with HIV, covering more than 40% of people in care.
- The ACA provides high-quality, comprehensive healthcare coverage for 22 million formerly underinsured and uninsured people in this country, mostly working individuals.
Yet, despite the clear benefits of Medicaid and the ACA, the new Congress and administration talk of repealing the ACA and destroying Medicaid by granting states a lump sum “block grant” to serve this population, or capping grants to states, without further federal help.
They will argue that this is a plan that rescues people from the ACA and empowers states, but repeal of the ACA and imposing block grants and caps on Medicaid are really designed to:
- Cut billions of dollars of care for poor communities
- Decimate federal oversight over Medicaid and access to health care in general, and
- Allow the program to wither because federal funding will not be adjusted to reflect healthcare inflation, population change, or advances in medical science.
We cannot let them effectively dismantle a program that means life or death to our clients—children and low-income people and individuals with chronic illness.
We will not go willingly back to 1964—the year before Medicaid’s creation—on any issue, and certainly not on Medicaid.