Trump administration ponders next Medicaid move: Attacking disabled Americans

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Ted Eytan / Flickr trumpcare protest...
Ted Eytan / Flickr

The Trump administration, working with Republican states, has come up with its next evil plan to needlessly punish already vulnerable people: capping lifetime Medicaid benefits. A number of states (Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Maine, and Wisconsin) are seeking waivers from the Trump administration to allow them to cut care off to enrollees.

Capping health care benefits—like federal welfare benefits—would be a first for Medicaid, the joint state-and-federal health plan for low-income and disabled Americans.

If approved, the dramatic policy change would recast government-subsidized health coverage as temporary assistance by placing a limit on the number of months adults have access to Medicaid benefits. […]

Critics say Medicaid time limits will pose an enormous administrative burden by requiring states to track recipients’ employment, eligibility and disability status. It could also shave valuable coverage months from people with health problems that impede their ability to work.

In addition, low-wage workers who may not get health coverage through their jobs could also reach their Medicaid coverage limit “as if it’s their fault that their job isn’t offering insurance,” said Leonardo Cuello, director of health policy at the National Health Law Center. “And this would happen to thousands upon thousands of people across the country,” if the policy catches on nationwide.

Like the work requirements Trump is trying to impose, this is going to end up in lawsuits, because it’s not actually allowed under the Medicaid statute. The waivers and state pilot programs are allowed under the law, provided that the objectives of the Medicaid—coverage for people who can’t otherwise afford it—are fulfilled. But nowhere in the statute does it say that coverage can be temporary.

This would result in more sick and disabled people going uninsured.

It would create more people relying on emergency rooms and likely end up being more expensive for the states than providing Medicaid coverage, because states are on the hook for the public hospital costs for the uninsured. But these Republican governors and legislatures would rather punish poor people by taking their health coverage away than pursue common sense public policy.

It’s almost certain that the Trump administration is going to approve this. They are “hell-bent on trying to keep people out of coverage” as Jessica Schubel, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told McClatchy. She puts the odds at 50-50 that they approve these waivers, but they’re probably more like 90-10. Because these monsters really don’t care if you live or die, or how.

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