76 people, including actor Noah Wyle, were arrested yesterday during a protest in the Cannon House Office Building. The protest, organized by the group Americans with Disabilities for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), was focused on Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which makes deep cuts to federal Medicaid spending.
Ryan’s proposal would cut federal Medicaid funding by $810 billion, or 22 percent, over the next ten years, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). By 2022, states would be receiving an average of 34 percent less in federal Medicaid funding than they would under current law, a rate which would continue to rise alongside health care costs. As CBPP notes, the effects of this proposal could be devastating not just to state budgets, but also to millions of Americans who rely on the program:
States would have to offset these federal funding shortfalls by substantially boosting their own contributions to Medicaid or, as is more likely, using the greater flexibility that a block grant would provide to make deep cuts to eligibility, health and long-term care services, and/or provider reimbursement rates. Last year, when Chairman Ryan included a similar Medicaid block-grant proposal in his budget, the Urban Institute estimated it would lead states to drop between 14 million and 27 million people from Medicaid by 2021 (in addition to the 17 million people who would no longer gain coverage because of the repeal of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion).
States could respond to the funding dropoff by finding more revenue to pay for it themselves, through tax increases or spending cuts, or by cutting eligibility. As one protestor said of the cuts, “they’re gonna kill us first…If we can’t stay in our home, if we can’t get the things we need through Medicaid, we will die in the streets without that type of thing.”