Why should we be concerned about Medicaid?
Posted on May 13, 2011 by Megan Burke
As we wrap up the Missouri legislative session, our attention switches to the Federal government . . . in particular the Federal deficit. Over the next couple of months we will be hearing a lot about the Federal budget, the debt ceiling, and cuts to discretionary funding. Medicaid will be getting a lot of attention.
In MO there are 198,300 people with disabilities who use Medicaid to meet their health care and long-term care needs. For most of these individuals, there is no other choice. Medicaid is the primary funding source for home and community-based services which support individuals with disabilities to live independently. There are 83,100 people with disabilities and seniors in Missouri who receive home and community-based services through Medicaid. 23,000 people rely on Medicaid to fund nursing home costs (Families USA, 2011).
It does not appear as though House Budget Committee Chair, Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would impose block grants on Medicaid, will get through the Senate. However, members of Congress are refusing to vote on raising the debt ceiling if spending cuts are not included. They have also refused to allow revenue options. Even though polls show that 59% of Americans are supportive of Medicaid (Families USA, 2011), this program will most likely be the main focus for cuts. If a spending cap is imposed on Federal funding for Medicaid, Missouri will have to pick up the cost or cut services.
In addition to the threat of spending caps, many states are struggling to find ways to cut Medicaid spending in order to balance their budgets. The Affordable Care Act has a provision which does not allow states to reduce their eligibility limits or make it harder for people to apply for Medicaid. This is called the maintenance of effort (MOE). There are now efforts in Congress to eliminate MOE protection, which would allow states to cut services and reduce the eligibility limits for Medicaid. Missourians with disabilities already face a low eligibility limit and high spend downs to be eligible for Medicaid.
If funding caps and/or elimination of MOE are passed through Congress, 198,300 Missourians with disabilities will be at risk for losing access to necessary services.
Learn more on how Missouri will be affected by proposed cuts to Medicaid in a report released by Families USA: Special State Reports – Cutting Medicaid: Harming Seniors and People with Disabilities.
Families USA. (2011, May 12). Cutting Medicaid: Harming Seniors and People with Disabilities who Need Long-Term Care. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from Families USA: http://familiesusa2.org/assets/pdfs/long-term-care/Cutting-Medicaid.pdf