President Donald Trump and other conservatives have been after the healthcare system for years, enacting policy that subtly lowers the number of citizens provided health insurance by the government due to disabilities, poverty, or age. Medicaid, which is funded both by states and the federal government, provides health coverage to 64.7 million Americans such as “eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities” While this program was broadened by the Affordable Care Act, Trump has been trying to lower its burden to the federal government and influence in the states. Proposed policy introduced last year has the potential to lower the poverty line used for healthcare coverage, intimidate immigrants seeking citizenship from using Medicaid and make it harder for states to fund their Medicaid programs. However, the ultimate blow to Medicaid was delivered on Jan. 30 when Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced a new method for states to receive the federal funding portion of their Medicaid programs. This new pathway will drastically reduce the amount of citizens with healthcare coverage, creating catastrophic results for individuals and communities.
Overall, 60 percent of funding for Medicaid comes from the federal government, with the remaining costs covered by the state. Currently, there is no cap to the amount of money the federal government can provide: the exact value is based off of how much the state contributes and the level of poverty of the state. Trump’s plan would ensure that there could be a financial cap, as the money allocated to states would be in the form of a block grant, which is a form of governmental funding that is given to states. The main problem with the block grant is that the funding would be capped for many medical and pharmaceutical services, meaning that millions of Americans would suffer.
Trump’s idea of Medicaid being funded through block grants would be extremely detrimental to millions of Americans. If the funding for Medicaid is allocated to the states in the form of block grants, certain ailments would not be covered and states would even have the discretion to allocate it for what they want. This would be potentially harmful for everyone receiving benefits from Medicaid because certain ailments and medications that have been covered won’t be.
Since the funding is also within the state’s jurisdiction, the state would have the right to disqualify people in need. The millions of people who currently benefit from Medicaid do actually need it — suddenly saying that they do not qualify would be harmful to them at both a financial level and a healthcare level. If someone could not afford to go to the doctor and no longer qualifies for Medicaid, chances are, they would not go to the doctor at all and their health would be put at an unnecessary risk.
Not only would it affect healthcare in the form of doctor’s visits, but it would also affect the price of pharmaceuticals. In the past few years, the prices of insulin, Epi Pens and many other vital pharmaceuticals have already increased. People cannot afford to pay these exorbitant prices and they should not have to for essential care that they need. Millions of people will be in a very tough position — choosing between going potentially bankrupt, or their life.
Prescription drugs would also be greatly affected. Usually, when people buy prescription drugs, they only have to pay a very small amount, called a co-pay. However, states that agree to Trump’s plan would be able to make cuts to this funding making the prices for co-pays much higher. This would especially be detrimental to those benefiting from Medicaid who also have cancer, as cancer medication is very expensive.
Trump’s plan for Medicaid would clearly do much more harm than good. It is a problem when people have to choose between buying food and buying medication that they need to survive. While some politicians believe the new policy will ensure the government is able to fund the states in the future, protecting a service that is no longer serving its people is a dead cause.
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Katherine Lee is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.