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By Robert Donachie
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) increases Medicaid spending beyond Obamacare levels, despite claims that it “guts” funding for the government-backed health care program.
Health Care policy analyst Tara O’Neill Hayes at the American Action Forum analyzed the financial impacts of the AHCA for each Medicaid beneficiary category and found the per beneficiary spending by 2025 is greater under the AHCA than Obamacare.
For instance, Hayes found that Medicaid spending on children, some adult populations and those with disabilities would decrease under the AHCA (less than a 10 percent cut in each category), but spending on the elderly and adults in Obamacare Medicaid expansion states increases 105 percent from the current Obamacare levels.
Cuts to children and healthier adults are likely to raise some concerns among those receiving Medicaid funding and Obamacare supporters, but that population of Medicaid recipients comprises less than half of all Medicaid expenditures. Children and adults account for 76.5 percent of all Medicaid enrollees, but just 44.6 percent of the program’s expenditures.
The opposite is true of elderly and disabled recipients, who comprise 23.5 percent of Medicaid enrollees but account for only 55.4 percent of Medicaid spending.
Opponents of the AHCA argue that Republicans are gutting Medicaid funding, effectively leaving the sick and elderly with either backbreaking premiums, or with no coverage at all.
Americans are right to worry about what lawmakers are doing with the Medicaid program. Kaiser Family Foundation found in February 2016 that over 50 percent of Americans have some connection to the Medicaid program, either through their own use of the program or through a friend or family member.
Leading the resistance for the Democratic Party is Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren went on a Twitter tirade Thursday, spewing vitriol at House Republicans for stripping “health care away from millions.” The senator said the AHCA “guts Medicaid,” and she characterized the bill as shoveling “cash to the rich.”
The AHCA still faces approval in the Senate, a process that is likely to take weeks as it makes its way through Senate committees and the drafting process. If it passes the Senate, the bill will make its way to President Donald Trump’s desk for approval.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is already showing signs that the AHCA could face some problems going forward. Graham tweeted Thursday that the AHCA should be “viewed with caution,” and argued that the “collapse and replace of Obamacare may prove to be the most effective path forward.”
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are also expressing some concerns with the AHCA. Some Republican senators are hinting they might scrap the AHCA altogether and create an entirely new legislation.
The AHCA passed by a narrow margin of 217-to-213 in the House Thursday.