Notch Bulletin: August 2011

Notch Bulletin: August 2011

Medicaid Cuts Would Hit Notch Babies And Families Hardest

Much of the debate over federal deficit reduction plans has been focused on overhauling Medicare and making changes to Social Security.  But a major funding change is also under consideration for Medicaid, the federal and state program that covers medical care for lower-income individuals including seniors who also receive Medicare.  As federal and state governments struggle to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, TSCL is concerned that Notch Babies, and the families who provide care for them, would be among those who would be hit the hardest by funding cuts.

Some 13% of the people who receive both Medicare and Medicaid are 85 and older.  The youngest Notch Babies turn 85 this year, while the oldest turn 94.  That’s approximately 1.17 million.  TSCL believes that roughly one quarter of Notch Babies receive Medicaid as well as Medicare.

Medicaid is the major source of coverage for an estimated 6 million seniors who need long-term care.  Last year, long-term care services required one-third of the federal Medicaid budget, more than $100 billion.  States, which share the program’s cost, spent tens of billions to match that amount.

Recent proposals would provide “block grants” or cap federal funding for Medicaid and give states additional flexibility over how they run their programs.  Under the budget plan passed by the House of Representatives, beginning in 2013, the state grants would increase annually at the rate of overall inflation, but that rate, as seniors are all too aware, is far below that of inflation for healthcare costs.  Analysts say that, as a result, states that cannot keep up with the program costs, are likely to scale back coverage. TSCL believes that Congress should consider better options to ensure that the seniors who are dependent on long-term care services will be able to continue to rely on those services.

Meanwhile, TSCL continues to work for passage of Notch Fairness Act, legislation that would provide $5,000 payable in four annual installments, or an improved monthly benefit.  The bill has been re-introduced in both the House and the Senate and has 22 co-sponsors.  TSCL remains committed to Notch Reform and we continue to meet with Members of Congress to build support for this needed remedy.

Sources: “What Medicaid Cuts Will Mean For Seniors,” Gleckman, Kaiser Health News, May 18, 2011.