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National HCH Council Opposes CMS Medicaid Block Grants

Nashville, TN: Today the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance to states encouraging them to change their Medicaid program from a fully funded entitlement program into a capped, more limited block grant. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council opposes this policy change because of the devastating impact it would have on the vulnerable people who rely on Medicaid for life-saving care.

Medicaid covers over half of all patients at HCH programs and is the most common insurance program for people experiencing homelessness. If Medicaid is funded using a block grant, states will be forced to reduce services, limit enrollment, and/or lower payment rates to providers when more people need care. “States would lose billions in Medicaid dollars under a block grant, which would directly undermine the ability of Health Care for the Homeless providers to treat and house their patients—while at the same time pushing even more people into homelessness,” says David Modersbach, Chair of the Council’s Policy Committee.

Ironically, block grants are concocted under the pretense of “state flexibility,” but this policy will only restrict states’ ability to meet critical health care needs. Council CEO Bobby Watts asserts, “While recognizing the need to structurally change our health care system, this new action is profoundly immoral. We never place budgetary caps on wars of choice in distant lands, yet here we propose to further limit medical care for the poor and vulnerable. This moves us further from recognizing health care as a human right. We cannot be a strong nation if our people are needlessly sick and dying.”

People with the experience of homelessness are worried. Art Rios, Sr., Chair of the Council’s National Consumer Advisory Board, says, “It’s a big problem when you take away services, and we can’t afford prescriptions or even copays. There are already local problems still not having enough medical care—why are you making it worse?”

About the National Health Care for the Homeless Council

The National Health Care for the Homeless Council is the premier national organization working at the nexus of homelessness and health care, and our mission is to eliminate homelessness by ensuring comprehensive health care and secure housing for everyone. Since 1986, we have brought together thousands of health care professionals, medical respite care providers, people with lived experience of homelessness, and advocates. Our Organizational Members include Health Care for the Homeless programs, medical respite programs, and housing and social service organizations across the country. We work to improve homeless health care through Training and Technical Assistance, researching and sharing best practices, advocating for real solutions to end homelessness, and uplifting voices of people experiencing homelessness.

For Immediate Release

January 30, 2020

Media Contact

Barbara DiPietro, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Policy
(443) 703-1346
bdipietro@nhchc.org

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