How Per Capita Caps Harm the Prevention and Treatment of New Viruses

Executive Summary

If Congress enacts a per capita cap on Medicaid, states will have fewer resources to prevent and treat the spread of emerging diseases, such as the recent outbreak of Zika in the southern United States and Puerto Rico. In this issue brief, Staff Attorney Candace Gibson argues that proposed changes to Medicaid funding, specifically per capita caps and block grants, not only cut funding to the program, but also leave states vulnerable to unforseen public health crises. Using the recent Zika virus outbreak as a model, Gibson demonstrates how proposed per capita caps would be insufficient to cover the cost of treatment and prevention and render states unable to effectively fight new disease outbreaks.

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