Study: GOP plan will cut Ga. Medicaid funds

Georgia would lose more than 40 percent of its federal funding for Medicaid over the next 10 years under a Republican plan to repeal health reform and shift Medicaid to a block grant program, according to a report released Tuesday.

Nationally, projected federal spending on Medicaid for the 10-year period 2012 to 2021 would fall by $1.4 trillion, a 34 percent decline, the report said. The analysis was released by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured and conducted by researchers at the Urban Institute. Here’s a link to the study.

The effect of the GOP plan on enrollment in state Medicaid programs could vary widely, the study said.

Kaiser Health News reports that the study found that under the plan written by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), states would lose an average of 34 percent of their federal funding for Medicaid. The drop in funding would range from 26 percent in Washington, Vermont and Minnesota to 44 percent in Florida and Wyoming.

Georgia’s decrease would be 41.4 percent, tied with Colorado for the fourth biggest.

The Republicans’ 2012 budget, which passed the House in April, would save the federal government $1.4 trillion in Medicaid spending over 10 years, including $610 billion from the repeal of the health reform law and $750 billion from making Medicaid a block grant program, the study said.

Under the health reform law, 16 million additional Americans would be expected to join Medicaid starting in 2014. Medicaid today covers about 50 million low-income Americans, mostly children and pregnant women.

As a result of  funding cuts in the Ryan plan, the study estimated that between 31 million and 44 million fewer people would be enrolled in Medicaid in the next decade, Kaiser Health News reported.

The study also said that by 2021, hospitals could see reductions in Medicaid funding of 31 percent to 38 percent annually, or as much as $84.3 billion, under the GOP plan, compared with projected funding under current law.

The release of the report coincides with a federal appeals court hearing on cases challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and as Georgia prepares to review the structure of its Medicaid program (here is Georgia Health News’ article on the review).

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican,  has expressed support for the block grant idea on Medicaid. The proposal would give states a lump sum for the government insurance program, which covers about 1.6 million Georgians.

“The block grant approach empowers the state to find innovative solutions for improving the quality of health care and controlling costs to Georgia taxpayers — efforts currently hampered by Washington regulation,” Stephanie Mayfield, Deal’s press secretary, said in a recent statement quoted in the AJC.