Washington DC — Today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy delivered a speech promoting the GOP plan to take health care away from millions of people on Medicaid and lower needed health care funding. A record 92 million people in America are covered by Medicaid, mostly seniors, children, and people with disabilities, but the GOP is seeking serious cuts to Medicaid and other vital health care programs. In his speech, McCarthy proposed bureaucratic reporting requirements, which will only result in millions losing coverage. Read more about how Republicans are demanding health care cuts here. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach issued a statement:
“House Republicans are intent on slashing vital health care programs, even if that means threatening the entire U.S. economy. McCarthy made it clear once again in his speech that the GOP plan is to rip away the coverage that people need to stay healthy and thrive. Their plan takes special aim at Medicaid, which 92 million Americans rely on, including people with disabilities, people with mental health and substance use disorders, children, pregnant women, seniors in nursing homes, rural Americans, and people of color. If Republicans truly cared about the state of the economy for working families, they wouldn’t put support for continued tax cuts for the wealthy before America’s health care.”
Republicans Want To Kick Millions Off Medicaid Through Bogus Work Requirements
- Across States, Expanded Medicaid Work Requirements Cut Enrollment And Increased Costs. In the handful of states that attached work requirements to Medicaid benefits, costs skyrocketed and large portions of participants lost coverage. In 2018, Kentucky withdrew a planned rollout of work requirements for Medicaid after the new restrictions were estimated to cost $271 million to implement. New Hampshire put work requirements on hold in 2019 after 40 percent of affected Medicaid enrollees almost lost coverage. In 2020, a Michigan court halted Medicaid work requirements that would have threatened 80,000 participants’ coverage. Most recently, new Medicaid work requirements in Georgia are estimated to cost up to $270 million annually—three times more than Medicaid expansion would have cost the state.
- In Arkansas, Work Requirements Failed Miserably, Causing 1 In 4 Medicaid Enrollees To Lose Coverage. In Arkansas, work requirements caused more than 18,000 people — nearly 1 in 4 of those subject to work requirements — to lose Medicaid coverage over the course of just seven months. The uninsured rate rose nearly 4% in less than a year, and a state court halted the requirements after less than two years. A group of public health experts later declared that the policy “failed to achieve its stated goal of boosting employment,” instead “harm[ing] health care coverage and access.”
- Expanded Medicaid Work Requirements Make It Harder For People To Meet Basic Needs. Millions of people in America would lose coverage if all states were required to implement Medicaid work requirements, and research suggests that work requirements could have “particular adverse effects on certain Medicaid populations, such as women, people with HIV, and adults with disabilities including those age 50 to 64.”
- Medicaid Work Requirements Have A History Of Significantly Reducing Enrollment. Restricting access to Medicaid for adults reduces coverage for children who are still eligible, and requiring people on Medicaid to prove they are working adds an administrative burden that is hardest on low-income enrollees. The industries that employ the most Medicaid enrollees tend to have extremely volatile hours, threatening loss of coverage under expanded work requirements: “The two industries that employ the most Medicaid enrollees potentially subject to work requirements are restaurants/food services and construction; many enrollees also work at grocery stores, department stores, and discount stores or provide home health or child care services. These industries generally have above-average rates of involuntary part-time work, where employees want full-time work but can’t get it.”
Republicans Want To Take Health Care Away From Millions by Cutting Funding
- Tens of Millions of Americans are at Risk of Losing Vital Parts of Their Health Care if Cuts to Medicaid Are Pushed Through. Over 92 million Americans are currently enrolled in Medicaid. Cuts to Medicaid would surely see considerable reductions in coverage leaving millions potentially uninsured with no pathway to get health coverage.
- More Than 50 Percent Of Children Could See Significant Reductions in Their Health Coverage If Medicaid Funding Is Slashed. Nationally, 54 percent of American children are covered by Medicaid/CHIP. Slashing Medicaid funding would see many of these children become ineligible for low-cost health insurance with no pathway to finding affordable health care.
- Marginalized Groups Are Disproportionately Harmed by Republican Attacks. Increasing Medicaid access is the single most important action available to expand coverage and reduce racial inequities in the American health care system. The ACA led to historic reductions in racial disparities in access to health care, but racial gaps in insurance coverage narrowed the most in states that adopted Medicaid expansion. States that expanded their Medicaid programs saw a 51 percent reduction in the gap between uninsured white and Black adults after expansion and a 45 percent reduction between white and Hispanic adults. Cutting Medicaid and repealing the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion would result in coverage loss, and therefore inflame these disparities.
- Rural Americans Relying on Medicaid Could be Left Behind by Republicans. Nearly 14 million Medicaid enrollees reside in rural areas. Medicaid helps fund rural hospitals, which employ six percent of all employees in rural counties that report having any hospital employment. Rural hospitals in Medicaid expansion states are 62 percent less likely to close. In 2023, over 600 rural hospitals are at risk of closing in the near future.
- Nearly 45 Percent Of Adults With Disabilities Could See Reduced Health Coverage or Lose Coverage Entirely. Medicaid covers 45 percent of non-elderly adults with disabilities, including adults with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, and brain injuries. Republican plans could leave many of these people and their families with little support and sometimes even no health coverage at all.
- Medicaid’s Assistance for Those With Substance Use Disorders Could Substantially Diminish. Nationally, around 12 percent of Medicaid enrollees over 18 have some kind of substance use disorder (SUD) and Medicaid is crucial to building a system of comprehensive substance use care. These interventions have been vital and life-saving, with one study finding that around 10,000 lives were saved from fatal opioid overdoses as a direct result of Medicaid expansion alone. Cutting Medicaid, put simply, would increase overdoses and decrease treatment options for thousands of Americans.
- Funding For Nearly Two-Thirds of Long-Term Residents in Nursing Homes Could Dry Up. Medicaid covers nursing home bills for over 60 percent of residents in nursing homes. In 2019, this totaled over $50 billion. The median private nursing home room can cost over $100,000 annually. Medicaid caps or cuts would see more seniors without the financial resources to afford long-term care.
- Births Currently Covered by Medicaid Could be at Risk. Medicaid covers over 40 percent of births in the United States and Congress recently offered permanent federal funding to states that opt to expand Medicaid coverage to mothers for one year postpartum. All of these gains would be rolled back under Republican plans and maternal mortality, already a dire crisis in this country especially for Black and Indigenous mothers, would only be worsened.
- Over a Quarter of Americans Living With a Serious Mental Health Condition Could See Their Coverage Cut Back. Medicaid is the single-largest payer for mental health services in America, serving 26 percent of all adults living with a serious mental health condition. Expanding Medicaid services, such as behavioral health benefits, also has led to improved access and better outcomes for low-income individuals. Simply having access to Medicaid has shown in some studies to reduce depression rates by over 3 percent among those with chronic health conditions. Capping or cutting Medicaid spending could see these achievements in mental health care rolled back.