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Gov. DeWine Urged to Pass on Trump's Medicaid Block Grant

Supporters of block granting Medicaid contend it would save costs and give states flexibility. (AdobeStock)
Supporters of block granting Medicaid contend it would save costs and give states flexibility. (AdobeStock)
January 30, 2020

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Trump administration is calling it the "Healthy Adult Opportunity," but health care advocates contend the new plan to revamp Medicaid is the same old story.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Thursday is expected to release a block grant plan for Medicaid that will provide states a lump sum to manage Medicaid, which state leaders could use as they see fit.

Steven Wagner, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, explains that currently, the federal government matches a certain percentage of Ohio's costs for Medicaid, and the federal dollars fluctuate depending on need.

"It's kind of a difference in the certainty of what Ohio would get in terms of its funding," he states. "So, we're hopeful that Gov. (Mike) DeWine sees the folly in pursuing block grants and that Ohio is not one of the states that takes CMS up on its offer."

Wagner adds that since most Medicaid dollars go to covering children, people in nursing facilities and those with disabilities, increases in health care costs could threaten their coverage and care.

Supporters argue block grants provide more flexibility for states, and will reduce program costs.

Block granting allows the federal government to cut Medicaid payments it makes to states each year. Wagner says if the economy hits a recession and more people need help with health care, Ohio wouldn't necessarily get more money to compensate for the increased enrollment.

"I do not believe that any flexibility that they're providing is not something that we probably could have worked out ourselves and it certainly won't make up for the challenges that we will have with potential reductions in funding," he states.

Block grants were last proposed in 2017 as part of the plan rejected by Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid provides health care coverage for nearly 3 million Ohioans, including 1.2 million children.

This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by The George Gund Foundation.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH