Hospitals fear new GOP block-grant bill would slash Medicaid funding
Four Republican senators unveiled a radical proposal Wednesday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by handing states $1.2 trillion in ACA subsidies through 2026 and letting them design their own coverage systems with few limitations on what they could do.
Sens. Lindsay Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller, and Ron Johnson acknowledged that their bill probably represents Republicans’ last chance to undo Obamacare, following the failure of Senate GOP repeal and replace legislation in July in the face of intense opposition from Democrats and healthcare stakeholder groups.
The four senators urged balky GOP colleagues, including President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to get fully behind it. And they warned that if their bill isn’t passed, it’s likely that the country will get a government single-payer health insurance system.
“We need people onboard now to stop what’s inevitable if we fail, single payer for all, which would mean the end of quality and the end of a sustainable federal budget,” Graham said at a news conference to discuss the bill.
Hospital groups expressed alarm about the new proposal, though they’re still studying it. “It will decimate the Medicaid program in California,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, vice president for external affairs at the California Hospital Association, who estimated that as many as five million people in her state could lose coverage under the bill. “The redistributive effect of this proposal is worse than any other proposal surfaced this year.”
Under the bill, starting in 2020 each state would receive a federal block grant replacing the ACA’s premium subsidies, cost-sharing reduction payments, and Medicaid expansion funding. The grants would total $136 billion in 2020, rising to $200 billion in 2026. There is no provision for continued funding after that year.