Washington, DC — Today, Georgetown University estimated using CMS released data that more than 861,000 thousand children lost their Medicaid/CHIP coverage in 2018 due to the Trump administration’s repeated attempts to gut the programs. In response to this news, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach released the following statement:

“The news that over 800,000 children lost their health care due to Republicans’ repeated attempts to gut Medicaid and CHIP is a disgrace and the Trump administration ought to be ashamed for putting the lives of children at risk. If Trump’s desired outcome in his war on America’s health care was to kick hundreds of thousands of children off their insurance, then mission accomplished.”

BACKGROUND

Restricting access to Medicaid for adults reduces children’s coverage. Republican efforts to shrink Medicaid enrollment will harm families. Research tells us that children’s coverage depends in part on their parents’: “When parents lose coverage, children are at greater risk of becoming uninsured, even if they remain eligible for Medicaid and CHIP.”

Going into 2018, Republicans held CHIP funding hostage in an “unprecedented delay” that allowed CHIP’s funding to lapse temporarily. Georgetown’s Center on Children and Families previously cited this lapse in partially explaining the decline in children’s enrollment: “Even states with the best intentions were unable to withstand strong national currents to protect children from losing health coverage. These national currents include a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful congressional effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cap federal Medicaid funding, as well as an unprecedented delay by Congress that allowed CHIP funding to lapse temporarily. In addition, Congress repealed the ACA’s individual mandate and the Trump Administration made numerous efforts to undermine the ACA Marketplaces, including dramatically cutting outreach and enrollment grants and shortening the open enrollment period.”

President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly tried to slash funding for Medicaid and impose per-capita caps on coverage. In 2017, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal bill, which included a per capita limit on federal Medicaid spending that would have resulted in huge cuts to Medicaid across states. After failing to pass the AHCA in the Senate, Republicans have continued to launch relentless attacks on Medicaid. The Trump administration’s budget for 2020 calls for  $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, and would impose a nationwide Medicaid work requirement.

The Trump administration is encouraging states to impose work requirements and other bureaucratic restrictions on Medicaid enrollment in order to deny coverage. Experts warn that work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles designed to restrict access to health care rather than increase employment. Already, more than 18,000 have lost their Medicaid in Arkansas because of the work requirement the state imposed last year. Now, the Trump administration is proposing a nationwide work requirement for those with insurance through Medicaid.

President Trump and Congressional Republicans are targeting Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest. In 2017, President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy. How do Republicans plan on paying for it? Former Speaker Ryan’s answer was clear: “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.” In an attempt to pay for these tax cuts, last April, House Republicans passed a balanced budget amendment that would slash Medicaid funding by $114 billion in a single year alone. Just a few weeks ago, President Trump announced his FY20 budget which would block grant Medicaid, cutting the program by $1.5 billion over ten years.

President Trump fully backs a lawsuit that would end Medicaid expansion. By expanding access to Medicaid for parents, children were more likely to gain coverage. One study estimated that between 2013 and 2015, 710,000 low income children gained coverage because of Medicaid expansion.