Conservatives Keep Medicaid on the Chopping Block

New Jersey Governor Christie is joining the conservative wave of scapegoating by proposing to cut the state’s Medicaid program. The Governor is proposing to put critical services for the state’s most vulnerable populations on the chopping block by asking for a waiver from the federal government in order to cut state spending on Medicaid by $300 million.  The cuts include long-term care and have the potential to affect up to 1 million people in New Jersey currently receiving Medicaid.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states cannot take eligible people off Medicaid without receiving a waiver from the federal government. If the Governor has his way and receives the waiver, seniors could be left without a way to pay for their long-term care in nursing homes and persons with disabilities will be left without access to affordable care. These cuts will be a strike to the economic security of New Jersey residents, forcing some to forgo care completely, deplete their savings, file for bankruptcy, and/or rely on other state-financed programs. Some residents forced from Medicaid will rely on expensive emergency room services, driving up taxpayer costs in a misguided and inefficient effort to cut costs. And these costs of care will only grow, as those pushed off the Medicaid program could be left without coverage until 2014 when the Affordable Care Act provisions take effect -- when insurance companies must issue insurance to all individuals.

This chipping away of vital programs for the poor comes at a time when Republicans are calling for the Medicaid program to be converted to a block grant program. Under a block grant, the state would have more flexibility on how to use their dollars, but the money will cap out.  Under the current Medicaid program, states can draw down dollars from the federal government based on the state match, but the states have to follow federal guidelines on how to use the dollars. By implementing block grants, a state could circumvent federal requirements and kick otherwise eligible people off Medicaid -- giving them no current options for coverage.  Taking away services from those who are most vulnerable and driving up costs for the taxpayer is not responsible governing, but rather just a deceptive political gimmick.

Full Resources from this Article - About the Law
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Moving Forward with Health Reform
New York Times - As the Number of Patients Goes Up, Their Benefits are About to Drop
Associated Press - Proposed Medicaid Cuts puts NJ in National Debate
The Huffington Post - New Jersey Medicaid Cuts Proposal Has State in National Spotlight

This article is part of PSN's email newsletter, The Stateside Dispatch.
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