WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement after the Trump Administration announced a new plan to allow and incentivize states to cut Medicaid funding, thereby undermining Medicaid’s critical financing structure and putting care for vulnerable Americans on the chopping block:
“I am very troubled by the Medicaid demonstration program announced today by the Trump Administration. Instead of focusing its efforts on improving and expanding access to health care coverage, this Administration continues down the road of undermining our nation’s health care system – this time by unveiling a proposal that will disrupt access to affordable health care for millions of Americans.
“It is clear the Administration is going to keep ignoring the repeated warnings of our physicians, hospitals and leading health experts across the country who have emphatically stated that such a proposal will lead to increased health care costs and reduced health care coverage. Plain and simple – this new demonstration program will allow states to cut essential and legally mandated health care benefits including coverage for behavioral health and substance use disorder, while increasing costs for other services across the board. Additionally, this rule will harm our ongoing efforts to combat the opioid and addiction epidemic and will increase the number of Americans without access to affordable health care coverage.”
In addition to allowing states to cut key Medicaid benefits and increasing costs for Medicaid expansion enrollees, the new Trump Administration rule allows states to deny retroactive health care coverage and payments to newly enrolled beneficiaries.
Sen. Warner, a longtime champion of access to health care, has been outspoken about the Trump Administration’s most recent effort to overturn the Affordable Care Act in court. Last year, he introduced legislation to allow Virginia, and any other states that expanded Medicaid after the 2014 deadline, to receive the same federal matching funds as states that expanded earlier under the terms of the Affordable Care Act. According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, this bill would save Virginia’s hospitals an estimated $300 million per year in the first three years of implementation. Additionally, in October, Sen. Warner forced a Senate vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would have overturned a Trump Administration waiver rule that destabilizes the nation’s health insurance market and weakens protections for three million Virginians with preexisting conditions.