Washington, DC – Congressional Republican leaders are considering policies that would cut funding for Medicaid as part of the debt ceiling negotiation. Emerging proposals could include Medicaid work requirements, block grants, and per capita caps, which would limit federal funding and make it harder for people to access health care programs and services.
The National Health Law Program (NHeLP)’s legal and policy experts are monitoring the debt ceiling proposals and will analyze them as they emerge. We will continue to provide insights into the threats posed by block grants, per capita caps, and work requirements. If enacted, such policies would jeopardize the health and financial security of the tens of millions of low-income individuals and families who rely on Medicaid, including millions of old adults, children, and people with disabilities.
“Speaker McCarthy’s proposals to slash Medicaid by imposing work requirements or other cuts would have disastrous effects on low-income and already underserved individuals and communities,” said Mara Youdelman, managing attorney of NHeLP’s DC office. “Any cuts would risk health care coverage for millions of older adults, children, people with disabilities, and low-income adults across the country.”
“The threat of these policies is not hypothetical. By design, they push people out of health care due to burdensome reporting requirements as most of them are already working. Their jobs don’t offer health insurance or affordable insurance. The Trump-era work requirement policy imposed by Arkansas in 2018 on Medicaid participants negatively impacted health care coverage and access, causing 18,000 people to lose Medicaid in a few short months. It also led to worse health and economic outcomes for those affected. People reported delaying care, rationing medication, and incurring increased medical debt. Work requirements were a disaster in Arkansas and would be even worse if implemented nationwide. NHeLP and our partners successfully blocked work requirements in Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Michigan as courts found the work requirements violated the objectives of Medicaid. We must work together to block them legislatively as well.”
“NHeLP urges Congress to prioritize the health of low-income individuals and families and reject any proposals that would cut Medicaid funding, adopt work requirements, or otherwise restrict access to health care services. Balancing the budget should not be borne by those who can least afford it.”
Learn more about the impact of these debt ceiling proposals at Protect Medicaid 2023.