Providers condemn 'shortsighted' Medicaid cuts in revised Senate healthcare bill

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Providers condemn 'shortsighted' Medicaid cuts in revised Senate healthcare bill
Providers condemn 'shortsighted' Medicaid cuts in revised Senate healthcare bill

“Shortsighted,” “draconian” and “drastic” are some of the words provider group leaders are using to describe the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act unveiled Thursday by Senate Republicans.

The new version leaves in place the Medicaid cuts that were part of the original bill, which an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said would cut federal spending on Medicaid by $772 billion through 2026 compared with current projections under the Affordable Care Act, which the BCRA would replace.

And like the previous version, the revised BCRA would change Medicaid from an open-ended program to one of fixed payments to states, although caps would be lifted under public health emergencies.

National Center for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle said the group is urging senators to vote no on the bill.

“Despite weeks of consistent warnings from providers and patient advocates alike, this bill still fails to uphold our nation's commitment to vulnerable seniors and individuals with disabilities,” he told McKnight's Senior Living. “These drastic cuts to traditional Medicaid will force states to restrict coverage just as the number of seniors needing long-term care peaks.

“Having a robust mix of home- and community-based services, like assisted living communities, as well as traditional settings, gives patients choices and, ultimately, the government savings,” Tittle continued. “We are deeply concerned that this shortsighted bill will compel states to prioritize annual budget pressures over patients, limiting long-term care options for seniors and individuals with disabilities.”

LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said her organization remains “strongly opposed” to the bill.

“Unfortunately, BCRA would still make draconian changes to Medicaid's payment structure that would end Medicaid as we know it today,” she said in a statement. “The bill would convert the current state/federal cost-sharing structure to a per capita cap or block grant, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the program and millions of people from coverage — dealing a severe blow to the social safety net.”

Two senators already opposed

A minimum of 50 of 52 senators must vote for the bill for it to pass.

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Susan Collins (R-ME) said Thursday via Twitter that she remained disappointed with the bill's “deep Medicaid cuts” and would not even vote for a motion to proceed, which is necessary for debate to begin.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) also reportedly will not vote for such a motion, although for different reasons. Paul said on Twitter that the bill is “crony capitalism” that would “create new entitlements for insurance companies.”

Additional Republican senators have expressed concerns with the bill as well, and no Democrats support it.

Republicans expect the CBO to release an analysis of the revised bill early next week. After that, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would push for the bill to be debated, with amendments added and then a final vote.

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