Warner, Kaine: Trumpcare’s Medicaid cuts will have significant impact

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine have asked Virginia health officials for a detailed assessment of the health care impacts of Medicaid cuts and per-capita Medicaid caps that are included in Republican proposals to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

healthcareThe Republican Trumpcare proposal (AHCA – HR 1628) adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 4th included significant reductions in federal support for Medicaid services to the poor, disabled, pregnant women, the elderly and two-out-of-three Virginia nursing home residents. The Senate Republican proposal, negotiated in secret over several weeks, has not yet been publicly shared with states, Democratic colleagues, or the public.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA would cut Medicaid by $834 billion over ten years. In fiscal year 2016, the federal government provided about $4 billion, or 51%, of the funding for Medicaid recipients in Virginia, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. An analysis by The Urban Institute estimates the deep cuts and caps included in the House Republican Trumpcare proposal would require Virginia to spend an additional $900 million over ten years just to maintain the current level of Medicaid services.

“A reduction of that magnitude or even one close to it – especially to an already efficient program like Virginia’s – could have devastating effects,” Sens. Warner and Kaine wrote in a joint letter to Virginia Health Sec. William Hazel. “It is therefore essential that Virginians understand how a proposal of this nature would impact their access to care.”

Medicaid is a joint federal and state healthcare partnership, and as former Virginia governors, both Sens. Warner and Kaine have successfully administered Virginia’s Medicaid program. The senators asked Sec. Hazel a series of questions about Trumpcare’s potential impacts on the health and well-being of vulnerable Virginians, including the potential loss of a requirement to include coverage for behavioral health services, as well as the impact on Virginians who are receiving addiction services through Medicaid managed care plans. The senators also asked Sec. Hazel if Trumpcare’s cuts and caps will impact Virginia’s legally binding agreement with the U.S. Justice Department to provide more costly community-based health services to vulnerable populations.

The text of the letter is available here.