February 5, 2020 – Children’s Health Fund strongly opposes the recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to begin accepting applications from states for Medicaid block grants. This decision will ultimately lead to cuts in Medicaid spending, threatening the healthcare coverage for millions of families and endangering the health and futures of countless children.
Medicaid is a safety-net program that provides lifesaving healthcare coverage for 71 million people in need. Half of the recipients, around 35 million, are children. The program has long operated as an entitlement program, where funding automatically increases or decreases based on how many people need the vital healthcare coverage it provides. By allowing states to receive a fixed amount of funding from the federal government every year to spend on Medicaid, block-grant funding fundamentally alters the way the program is financed. If an unexpected economic downturn, natural disaster, or other unforeseen event increases the number of families and children who need coverage, states will be less able to support them, leading to cuts in benefits, tighter eligibility criteria, or waiting lists.
Evidence of Medicaid’s economic and social benefits are strong. Children who are eligible for Medicaid do better in school, are more likely to finish high school and college, and earn more as adults. A study found that government investment in Medicaid for children is largely regained down the line through higher future tax payments by former recipients.
We believe that access to high-quality healthcare is the right of every child and that Medicaid, a healthcare lifeline for families and children, should be protected as a needs-based, flexibly-funded program in every state.