Press Releases

Contact: Michele Kayal
Phone: 202-866-0648

Statement: Medicaid waivers imperil children’s health coverage


Below please find the statement of Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, regarding today’s rollout by the Trump Administration of new Medicaid guidelines:

“The Trump Administration took a giant step backwards on children’s health care today by allowing states to arbitrarily cap Medicaid.

At a time when Administration-imposed red tape and the chilling effect of its proposed public charge rule have increased the number of uninsured children — more than 400,000 kids lost insurance last year — we should we working to improve kids’ health coverage, not accelerate the number of children losing it.

Capping federal funding through Medicaid block grants and per capita limits, proposed by the Administration’s new Healthy Adult Opportunity, will almost certainly damage our health care system as a whole and harm children along the way.

Children are the largest population served by the Medicaid program. The Department of Health and Human Services asserts the new proposal will not impact current populations, but imposing a new, arbitrarily capped block grant or per capita cap is likely to create long-term funding shortfalls in the Medicaid program and health care system that will almost certainly impact enrolled children. For instance, the waiver makes changes to managed care contracts, which are allowed to be modified in mid-year and may cause enormous shortfalls or problems within a health plan’s covered population, including children.

The new waiver option potentially has disturbing interactions with other changes (some radical) that HHS is considering, proposing, or implementing with respect to disability eligibility, poverty thresholds, eligibility redeterminations, work requirements, asset test revisions, and other changes.

Pregnant women — and by default, their children — will be immediately impacted by this proposed rule. More than 40% of all births in this country are paid for by Medicaid. The guidance, as written, opens the door to cutting back care for pregnant women. The guidance also suggests a questionable and deeply concerning impact on young adults, including former foster youth.”

Bruce has fought block grants for more than two decades, first as a key Senate staffer with numerous victories against waiver, and as a child advocate. Please find at this link his most recent backgrounder and another essay on 10 reasons to Reject Medicaid Block Grants.

To schedule a conversation, please call/text Michele Kayal, FFoC VP media and communications, at 703-919-8778.