Trump admin’s Medicaid block grants met with industry backlash

The Trump administration recently announced a new Medicaid block granting policy, dubbed Healthy Adults Opportunity, that would allow states to opt into an overhaul of funding the federal healthcare program.

The approach, which has been framed as an “opportunity” for states to better control their Medicaid spending and gain greater financing flexibilities, has been harshly criticized by healthcare groups. Most of the critics argue that block granting, which caps Medicaid spending, will ultimately harm patients who won’t be able to receive the care they need.

Here are some of the top criticisms from healthcare industry groups:

American Medical Association

“The AMA opposes caps on federal Medicaid funding, such as block grants, because they would increase the number of uninsured and undermine Medicaid’s role as an indispensable safety net,” AMA President Patric Harris, MD, MA, said in a statement. “The AMA supports flexibility in Medicaid and encourages CMS to work with states to develop and test new Medicaid models that best meet the needs and priorities of low-income patients. While encouraging flexibility, the AMA is mindful that expanding Medicaid has been a literal lifesaver for low-income patients.”

American College of Physicians

“ACP strongly opposes transforming Medicaid’s existing financing structure into a block grant approach because it will increase the number of people without health insurance coverage for essential health care services,” Robert McLean, MD, MACP, president of ACP, said in a statement. “Likewise, the per-capita cap option will restrict crucial healthcare funding.”

American Hospital Association & the American Health Care Association

“The bleak reality is that Medicaid funding is already inadequate,” said Rick Pollack, CEO and president of AHA, and Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA. “Enacting this proposed rule would cut up to $50 billion nationally from the Medicaid program annually, further crippling Medicaid financing in many states and jeopardizing access to care for the 75 million Americans who rely on the program as their primary source of health coverage.”

American Academy of HIV Medicine

“Ironically named the Healthy Adult Opportunity Initiative, the CMS guidance on block grants threatens the health of the most vulnerable among us,” said Executive Director Bruce Packett. “People with HIV, those with disabilities, children––these people are all at risk to lose access to needed healthcare and coverage through Medicaid.”

An estimated 42% of adults with HIV receive their healthcare coverage through Medicaid.