Medicaid is an essential part of America’s safety net and is relied on by many millions of working families, children, and people with disabilities in our country. It helps fund hospitals and doctors that deliver health care to people who would otherwise be unable to pay. Without Medicaid, providers would still have to offer these services; they would just have to absorb the cost, hurting the system overall. Medicaid also provides an economic boost to the states, with the federal government covering most of the costs, pumping millions into state economies.
The Medicaid expansion in the ACA increased insurance coverage to tens of thousands of Connecticut residents. Connecticut reduced state funding that had previously been appropriated to pay for the care of people without health insurance because so many people became insured since the implementation of the ACA. Because the State faces a large budget shortfall, it is unlikely that this funding could be restored. An elimination of the Medicaid expansion would seriously harm the ability of thousands of people to receive medical care. It is estimated that the state cost of maintaining coverage for the expansion population could be more than $630 million per year.
Block grant and per-capita cap reforms to the Medicaid program could be devastating to Connecticut. As a state with a high Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and our high per capita income, any changes to the Medicaid program which cap spending would decimate our already-fragile safety net system for our most needy citizens.
People with disabilities have much at stake in the on-going efforts to reduce the deficit in the federal budget. Deficit reduction threatens to reduce vital government services that give many people with disabilities the opportunity to live healthy, independent, and productive lives in their communities. Medicaid allows Connecticut residents with intellectual/developmental disabilities the flexibility to design programs that will work best for them. For many citizens, Medicaid is an important source of long-term supports and services that enables them to live and work in the community and to avoid costly, segregated nursing homes and institutions. The disability community will be actively involved in the debate over deficit reduction to ensure that the solutions developed do not do harm our most vulnerable citizens.
We encourage you to monitor Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid block grants or per-capita cap reforms. As of December 1, 2016, 764,441 people in Connecticut are enrolled in Medicaid. Tens of thousands of them were newly eligible for Medicaid following the expansion in the ACA.
It would seem things will be status quo for the meantime, but we all know this discussion will come around again and it is important we are well informed.