TN’S MEDICAID BLOCK GRANT: A CAP IS A CUT
by Kristen Grimm
In the waning days of the Trump administration they have just now approved Tennessee’s request to turn our Medicaid funding into a Block Grant, putting the health care of our neediest citizens into the hands of Governor Lee and the TN GOP. Lee and the GOP in our state have shown us in recent years they are comfortable with human suffering by refusing to expand Medicaid, rejecting $1 Billion yearly in health care funding, and we’ve seen them sit on over $700 million in TANF funds, so putting this giant sum of money into their hands with fewer strings attached is entirely unjustified and unwise.
A block grant would be a cap in federal funding to Medicaid. And let me be clear: A cap is a cut. The idea that the block grant approval will expand coverage is politically deceitful and sinister.
During the Trump administration’s attempt to cut Medicaid and repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, they also tried to pass block grants to drastically cut funding to Medicaid.
Healthcare advocacy organizations and people like myself fought hard to protect this nation’s Children’s Hospitals and Medicaid recipients from suffering the potentially catastrophic consequences of capping the federal funding structures to Medicaid.
Block grants were so dangerous to children’s hospitals, the Children’s Hospital Association publicly came out against block granting our federal Medicaid program.
At the time of the cuts, 54% of impatient revenues for all our nation’s children’s hospitals were paid for by Medicaid and 63% of all our nation’s emergency department revenues were paid for by Medicaid.
What we see here was a measure that is so dangerous that the Children’s Hospital Association had to fight against it because every children’s hospital in this nation was at risk of being catastrophically harmed. When there is a capped concrete ceiling for federal Medicaid funding there’s absolutely no way you can expand services in a boxed measure of fiscal containment.
Block grants being proposed by the Trump administration were one of the cruelest measures that they have tried to invoke upon our nation’s federal departments.
This shows us the nature of Governor Lee and the Trump administration’s immorality that they would mess with children’s hospitals. But this is what the Republican leaders are doing. They are not only putting our children’s hospitals at risk, but they are also harming the elderly and vulnerable people all across this state. Thankfully it looks like the Biden administration will be able to reverse this measure before TN has time to do any harm to the most vulnerable in our state.