LeadingAge Weighs in with Senate Finance Committee on Medicaid

Legislation | June 06, 2017 | by Niles Godes

In response to a request for comments on health care reform from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, LeadingAge CEO Katie Smith Sloan expressed LeadingAge’s opposition to changing Medicaid’s financing system to block grants or per capita caps.

Sloan explained that block grants or per capita caps would:

  • Radically restructure Medicaid’s financing so much that the program would be unsustainable in its current form.
  • Be subject to change during every budget crisis. Funding could be reduced, the inflationary adjustor decreased, and so forth
  • Cut Medicaid deepest precisely when the need is greatest because funding would no longer increase automatically in response to public health emergencies or emergence of new treatments.
  • Make no distinction between the “young-old,” and the “old-old” (85 and older). This is in stark contrast to the federal/state partnership that exists today.
  • Shift more costs to states, causing millions to be uninsured or reducing access to care. States would have to raise taxes, make drastic cuts in other budget areas, restrict eligibility, or otherwise cut Medicaid spending – seriously harming beneficiaries.

Sloan also reminded the Senate that Medicaid has become the default payer for long-term services and supports because there are no significant alternative sources of payment other than out-of-pocket. People in need of long term care are often the oldest and frailest Americans, many with complex health conditions. They have few options and very few can pay for these services on their own. Medicaid is essential to enabling them to live out their later years with dignity and support.

LeadingAge continues its aggressive advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, holding nearly 75 meetings with lawmakers’ offices over the past several months, and mounting numerous grassroots campaigns that have resulted in thousands of contacts with Congress.

Senate leaders have indicated a desire to consider health care legislation in the Senate early this summer.