OP-ED: CBHA Opposes Trump Administration Backdoor Plan to Shrink Medicaid Funding

Op-Ed: The Community Behavioral Healthcare Association strongly opposes caps on federal Medicaid funding, such as block grants, because they pose an enormous threat to the health and well-being of millions of our nation’s must vulnerable citizens, including the over 700,000 Illinoisans who receive lifesaving care through Medicaid expansion.

On January 30th, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its Medicaid block grant proposal under the name “Healthy Adult Opportunity” (HAO). The HAO initiative would give states the option to receive their federal Medicaid funding as a block grant, or a lump sum, to cover nondisabled adults, while providing states more autonomy to manage their programs.

Despite being touted as an opportunity for states to take greater control of their health program, block grants amount to cuts to Medicaid and eventually translating into greater challenges in getting care, including mental health and substance use disorder services, for millions of senior citizens, people with disability, non-disabled adults, and children.

This form of static funding fails to adjust for changes in need such as economic recessions, natural disasters, public health crises, and demographic changes. States would be forced to cut health benefits, limit eligibility, restrict access to prescription drugs, decrease provider reimbursement, precisely when people are hurting the most.

A block grant funding structure undermines the progress that has been made nationally and in Illinois to address opioid overdose deaths and increase access to mental health services.

As the proposed block grant program, if approved, would be optional for states, CBHA joins industry colleagues and advocates in calling on our state elected leaders, including Governor Pritzker, to firmly and quickly denounce the Trump administration’s Medicaid Block Grants plan.

Blanca Campos, MPA

Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs

Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of IL (CBHA)