House Democrats condemned the administration's 'illegal actions' to give block grants to states.
The House of Representatives passed a resolution, 223 to 190, disapproving of the Trump administration's cuts to health care for low-income Americans on Thursday. But 188 Republicans — plus one Democrat and one independent — voted against the resolution, endorsing the "Healthy Adult Opportunity" grant scheme.
Back in 2017, Donald Trump urged Congress to let him convert Medicaid — a program in which the federal government reimburses the bulk of costs for states to provide health insurance for Americans with lower incomes — into block grants to the states.
Under the current system, Medicaid guarantees federal matching payments with no pre-determined limit so states can automatically adjust for demographic and economic shifts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. With a block grant, states would only have a fixed amount of money coming in from the U.S. Treasury each year.
In July 2017, the GOP-controlled Senate rejected this plan and the rest of Trump's unpopular "Trumpcare proposal.
But last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that they intended to implement a voluntary block grant program. While it would be left up to the states, poorer Americans in places with conservative state governments could find themselves with decreased coverage.
Critics say this move may have exceeded the administration's legal authority and that it could harm patients. Analysis has shown the block grant program could lead to reductions in the number of prescription drugs covered and the quantities available. It may also lead to states restricting enrollment and limiting benefits, among other concerns.
Thursday's resolution, offered by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), condemns the "illegal actions taken by the Trump administration to undermine the Medicaid program, including beneficiary protections, are a cruel attack on a program that provides for the health and well being for some of our most vulnerable citizens." It also urges the Trump administration to "immediately withdraw" the block-grant guidance.
It will face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.
As a candidate, Trump promised he would not make cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, and accused his rivals of wanting to gut those entitlement programs. But last month, he admitted that he hoped to cut those safety-net programs "toward the end of the year."
Last week, a constituent asked Mike Pence to defend the block grant approach. He did not do so.
Updated with the final vote tally.
Published with permission of the American Independent Foundation.