The outcome of the federal midterm elections makes it less likely that Medicaid funding cuts will be on the agenda for the next Congress, organizations representing senior living operators believe.
Some members of Congress tried to make Medicaid reform part of their 2017 efforts to replace Obamacare. One plan that ultimately didn’t pass sought a cut of approximately 20% over 10 years, National Center for for Assisted Living Executive Director Scott Tittle had noted during the recent NCAL Day.
Republicans tend to want to slash Medicaid funding, Clifton Porter II, senior vice president of government relations for the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, told McKnight’s on Wednesday. Democrats, however, may be able to keep that tendency in check now that they are the majority in the House of Representatives, he added.
LeadingAge also is “optimistic” that a Democrat-led House “will not pass the kinds of attacks on Medicaid, including block grant and per-capita cap proposals, which we had to fight in 2017 as part of the [Affordable Care Act] repeal effort,” Barbara Gay, LeadingAge vice president of public policy communications, wrote in an online post.
Other good news, Porter said: “There may be some bipartisan opportunities for us, possibly, particularly around the issue of immigration. We’re somewhat hopeful that there will be some resolution on that issue in the next couple of years, and ideally, we’ll be in a position to increase the supply of workers for our members.”
Concerns remain, however.
The fact that Congress is divided — Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the election — may mean that it is more difficult for the federal government to act on issues of importance to groups such as AHCA/NCAL, Porter said.
LeadingAge, Gay wrote, is “most concerned” about senior housing appropriations under a continuing resolution that expires Dec. 7. Fiscal 2019 spending bills will need to be completed in the “lame duck” session of Congress, she noted. Affordable housing traditionally has seen payment issues when programs “are subjected to a string of continuing resolutions,” Gay said.
LeadingAge also continues to advocate for passage of the Ensuring Medicaid Provides Opportunities for Widespread Equity, Resources (EMPOWER) and Care Act, H.R. 5306 and S. 2227, Gay said. “The legislation would reauthorize the Money Follows the Person demonstration program which expands consumer choice of settings in which to receive long-term services and supports,” she added.