Price: Proposed $880 Billion Medicaid Cut Wouldn’t Cut Medicaid Coverage

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price argued Sunday that Republicans’ proposed $880 billion Medicaid cut would not impact Medicaid coverage.

President Donald Trump continually repeated as a candidate for that office, on Twitter and in recorded speeches, that he would not touch Medicaid funding.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis of the first, failed iteration of Republicans’ health bill found it would decrease direct federal spending on Medicaid by $880 billion over 10 years — a 25 percent decrease in 2026 versus the status quo — and that 14 million fewer people would be enrolled in the program by 2026. Though Senate Republicans have said they will write their own health bill, House Republicans’ version would roll back Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid and put a per-capita cap on Medicaid dollars to the states.

In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Price said those cuts would create “a system that would allow the states to tailor their Medicaid program to” the elderly, disabled, mothers and children, “thereby saving money, yes, but also making it so that they have a higher level of care, a higher quality of care than they currently do.”

Tapper pressed Price to explain how the nearly-trillion dollar proposed cut wouldn’t discourage doctors from taking Medicaid, as reimbursement rates would be lower.

Price said the massive cut would allow “greater flexibility, so that more resources could be put to the seniors and the disabled, and appropriate resources could be put to the healthy moms and kids in the Medicaid system.”

Republicans’ plan would shift much of the cost of covering beneficiaries of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion back to the states, effectively forcing them to shrink their Medicaid population.

Vox’s Sarah Kliff noted Sunday that, while Republicans’ plan includes tax breaks for individuals to purchase care on the individual market, the plans available to them would be more expensive and less comprehensive than Medicaid, leading many individuals to give up on looking for insurance altogether.

“Are you actually saying that $880 billion in cuts, according to the CBO, however you want to talk about that not being a cut, that that’s actually not going to result in millions of Americans not getting Medicaid?” Tapper finally asked.

“Absolutely not,” Price said. “And we believe strongly that the Medicaid population that will be cared for in a better way under our program — because it will be more responsive to them.”

“These decisions will be made closer to them,” he continued. “Right now you’ve got Washington, D.C. Dictating to the states and dictating to patients exactly what must occur. That’s not how a healthy health system works. A healthy health system works by allowing those individuals closest to the patients themselves to be making those decisions. From the President’s perspective and our perspective that means patients and families and doctors making medical decisions, not Washington, D.C.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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