Today, the United States Senate released its draft legislation designed to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (also known as The Affordable Care Act). What is most evident in this legislation is the massive destruction of the Medicaid program. Medicaid is the single largest healthcare program in the United States. Medicaid serves one in five Americans. Medicaid covers not only poor individuals, but two-thirds of all nursing home residents. Many nursing home bills run between $5000 and $7000 a month for skilled nursing care. The majority of our elderly community cannot self-pay for that level care should it be necessary. Medicare does not cover long-term skilled nursing care. So when we talk about cutting Medicaid, we are talking about the future care of ourselves and those we love.
The Senate bill will phase out the Medicaid expansion that is part of Obamacare. Obamacare provides for 100% federal funding over a three year period and 90% funding after that for those states that expanded their Medicaid programs. Medicaid is a federal program that is administered by states. Georgia did not elect to expand Medicaid. Those states that did expand Medicaid saw a significant decrease in their uninsured populations. And importantly, sick and indigent individuals had access to medical care.
Today’s proposed legislation proposes “block grants” and per capita spending limits – a draconian solution that has never been part of the Medicaid program. Currently, Medicaid provides healthcare coverage to individuals qualifying from an income and asset standpoint. This current legislation caps the amount of money provided to states regardless of the number of eligible recipients. Hence, coverage will be drastically reduced for those states with significant poor populations. Georgia ranks 42nd in overall poverty. https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/georgia-2016-report/ is third in the nation for medically uninsured individuals. http://www.georgiahealthnews.com/2016/09/georgia-ranks-high-rate-uninsured/