Senate Health Care Bill Cuts Medicaid

Senate Health Care Bill Cuts Medicaid

What happens to the Medicaid program will have huge consequences for New Mexico, which bought into the ACA's expanded Medicaid program, and which now has 902,860 people, or 43 percent on the population, on Medicaid.

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their long-awaited bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The New York Times reported that the 142-page bill would make deep cuts to Medicaid, end the mandate that everybody have health insurance and give states the ability to drop many of benefits required by the ACA.

The Times said the bill would also create a new system of tax credits to help people buy insurance, and that it would repeal all of the tax increases imposed under the ACA to help pay for its subsidies.

Here’s an excerpt form the Times’ story:

“The Senate bill — once promised as a top-to-bottom revamp of the health bill passed by the House last month — instead maintains its structure, with modest adjustments. The Senate version is, in some respects, more moderate than the House bill, offering more financial assistance to some lower-income people to help them defray the rapidly rising cost of private health insurance.

“But the Senate measure, like the House bill, would phase out the extra money that the federal government has provided to states as an incentive to expand eligibility for Medicaid. And like the House measure, it would put the entire Medicaid program on a budget, ending the open-ended entitlement that now exists.”

What happens to the Medicaid program will have huge consequences for New Mexico, which bought into the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program, and which now has 902,860 people, or 43 percent of the population, on Medicaid. Of those, 267,000 are adults who came into Medicaid through the expansion program.

In New Mexico, Medicaid is a $5.8 billion program. Of that, $4.6 billion comes from the federal government, and $1.2 billion from the state’s general fund.

If the federal government reduces the amount of money that goes to states, New Mexico would be hit hard. It would either have to find some of that money itself — a difficult proposition for a state that has had severe budget deficits in the past two years — or kick people off the program, or reduce the amount of money it pays to Medicaid providers.

Exactly how the Senate bill would affect the number of people who will be able to get insurance isn’t yet known. The Congressional Budget Office will have to analyze the bill and announce its assessment.

The CBO said that the health care bill passed by the House last month would leave 23 million more people without insurance in a decade.

The Times said that the Republican bill could come to the floor of the Senate next week.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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