Disability Advocates Startled by AHCA’s Medicaid Cuts

In May, when the CBO’s score of the American Health Care Act was released, one of the most polarizing numbers that the report portended was the $834 billion reduction of Medicaid funds over a ten-year period. Disability advocates are concerned that these cuts will have immediate and severe consequences on the elderly and disabled, many of whom rely on Medicaid to have access to essential services, as well as to benefits that are optional within the program but nonetheless important, such as waiting lists for independent or community housing.

The recently House-approved AHCA will drastically alter Medicaid by shifting it from an entitlement program to a per capita cap system, which means that the federal government would offer a fixed amount of money to states based on national spending trends as opposed to roughly matching its contributions to state Medicaid spending, which it does under current law. Advocates of the per capita cap model claim that it is a solid mechanism by which to reduce federal spending and allow states more flexibility to address the needs of their individual Medicaid populations. Disability advocates are skeptical that these considerable advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages that Medicaid enrollees will likely face in consequence of the cuts.

The reduction of federal contributions will increasingly force states to shoulder Medicaid costs, which would lead to financial shortfalls in Medicaid covered services and benefits, which would in turn affect the beneficiaries who rely on said services and benefits. Some states, especially those which took part in this year’s Medicaid expansion, might have to make some tough choices in light of the cuts, which could include from scaling back who is eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Disability Scoop has reported that rallies protesting these Medicaid cuts have taken place in Capitol Hill, as well as seven other states. In addition, disability advocates are imploring uneasy citizens to direct questions and concerns to their senators on the behalf of these developments.