WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee, delivered the following floor statement today concerning President Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicaid.
“We recognize the importance of moving forward and advancing healthcare for all Americans. That is why we are taking this time to express our real concern about President Trump’s proposal, his budget proposals, which would cut Medicaid by $1.5 trillion, the effort to repeal the Medicaid expansion that we saw under the Affordable Care Act, and the thought of turning Medicaid at the Federal level into a block grant, capping our participation and putting the burdens on our States.
“It is a direct attack on vulnerable Americans, jeopardizing their access to healthcare. There are 70 million Americans that depend on Medicaid. There are 1.2 million Americans who are veterans and who are women, children, and seniors. In Maryland, almost half of our Medicaid population are children. For seniors, one out of every five Medicare-eligible beneficiaries also needs Medicaid. They are dual eligible. 60 percent of the adult Medicaid enrollees are workers, and 70 percent are from communities of color. Medicaid expansion has made a big difference in access to healthcare. It has reduced health inequalities. The uninsured rate in the State of Maryland has dropped from 10.2 percent to 6.6 percent. That is important not just for the individuals who now have health coverage. It stops the cost shifting and the distortions in our healthcare system with people who do not have health insurance.
“If we were to eliminate Medicaid expansion, 289,000 Marylanders would lose their coverage—the essential health coverage that it provides for our children in the early periodic screening and diagnostic treatment so that we can help children live healthier lives through correction of healthcare problems and prevention of more serious healthcare issues. As Senator Wyden pointed out, in long-term care, three out of five of our residents in nursing-type, long-term care facilities are Medicaid payments.
“It would be devastating with that type of cut on their long-term care needs. We made major advancements in Medicaid on covering behavioral health and addiction. One out of every three individuals who are part of Medicaid expansion have a behavioral health issue. The opioid crisis is well known to all of us. We know that part of the solution is getting people help and treatment through Medicaid expansion and the Medicaid Program providing that safety net to millions of Americans.
“The expansion of dental services is something I have been engaged in ever since the tragedy in 2007 in my State, when a youngster died from lack of access to dental care, Deamonte Driver. Medicaid is a lifeline for dental services. So in the United States of America, the wealthiest Nation in the world, healthcare should be a right, not a privilege.
“We made progress in the Affordable Care Act. Let us build on that success but not move in the wrong direction. Rather than cutting Medicaid, we should be looking at ways to work together to improve coverage and affordability. Rather than eliminating the Medicaid expansion, we should be looking at additional ways to cover those who have no health coverage or inadequate health coverage. Rather than limiting the Federal program as part of Medicaid for our States, we should be looking at ways to strengthen the Federal-State partnership so that we work together so that every American has access to affordable, quality care. I urge my colleagues that that should be our goal. Let’s work together.”