Don’t Cut Kids: Medicaid Block Grants and Per Capita Cuts

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Medicaid is a critical program that serves to protect the health of Americans with disabilities and children in low-income families that have nowhere else to turn for their care. Every so often, lawmakers suggest turning Medicaid into a block grant. Federal block grants are, by definition, an arbitrarily capped amount of federal funding that go to states in the form of a lump sum payment and fail to adjust for population growth, economic changes, public health crises, or natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. They are bad news for kids.

Other lawmakers will sometimes propose a “per capita cap” on federal Medicaid expenditures to reduce spending. Intended to be an alternative to a Medicaid block grant, the effect of per capita caps would be equally devastating for children, seniors, and the disabled. Like block grants, a per capita cap serves only to cut federal costs by setting arbitrary limits on federal Medicaid spending. Not only would per capita caps jeopardize the Medicaid entitlement by underfunding states, they would force serious cuts in benefits and services for the vulnerable populations the program was designed to protect.

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From our Voices for Kids Blog