Benefit Bulletin: April 2017

Benefit Bulletin: April 2017

How Changes to Health Policy Could Affect Medicaid

TSCL has growing concerns that too little thought is going into what changes to our nation’s healthcare system would mean for older adults — particularly those who depend on Medicaid.  Medicaid is the state and federal safety net program that provides health benefits for low-income people.  About 12 million of America’s sickest and oldest people require long-term care support and services— a number expected to double over the next 20 years.  Medicare, however, covers almost no long-term care services — Medicaid does.

Turning to Medicaid is no easy choice, but can only be used as a last resort.  People must first impoverish themselves to qualify, “spending down” income and assets to the federal poverty limit — $11,880 per year (individual), or $16,020 (for couples).  Today the program is increasingly used by even middle-income families who have been made poor due to the costs of their healthcare.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed capping what the government pays for both Medicaid & Mediare to cut federal spending.  He favors giving states a fixed amount of money for Medicaid as a “block grant,” and allowing states the flexibility to set eligibility, and benefits.  This would fundamentally change the current structure of Medicaid, which could eliminate the guarantee of coverage for all who are eligible and eliminate crucial benefits, along with the guarantee to the states for matching federal funds.

TSCL strongly opposes efforts to shift a greater share of healthcare costs to older Americans and their families than they already bear now.  This can leave too many people without an adequate long-term care safety net which even today forces too many people into poverty.  Get involved and contact your Members of Congress!  Tell us what you think about proposals to change Medicaid.


Source:  “What Happens To Long Term Care If Trump Remakes Medicare and Medicaid?” Howard Gleckman, Forbes, December 16, 2016.