Concerned about Medicaid? American health care reforms are a hot topic wherever you turn at the moment, leaving many conflicted about what to believe about the future of their medical coverage. We’ve put together the key facts which will hopefully make things a little clearer.
Why Are People Concerned?
Medicaid has been in force since 1965 in a joint federal and state run program which helps low-income individuals and families with medical costs. It’s a lifeline for those who are unable to afford private health insurance and can work in conjunction with Medicare which provides cover for those over 65 claiming Social Security or those with a severe disability. For many, Medicaid gives them the peace of mind they’ll be able to get medical help when they need it.
Republicans have drafted a new health care bill aiming to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This has left many worried as Obamacare allowed those earning below 138% of the federal poverty level to enroll for Medicaid under expansion plans in most states. Critics have slammed the new changes, claiming that Medicaid is likely to be cut under the new bill. However, there is much conflicting information out there, only adding to concerns of those currently using the scheme.
The Facts vs. the Speculation
There’s no doubt that the Better Care Reconciliation Act, dubbed Trumpcare (previously known as the American Health Care Act of 2017), has raised concerns about the future of affordable health care in America. The bill plans to slow the rate of Medicaid expansion, leaving many concerned that the scheme will be cut altogether.
But what has the Government actually said?
- In a recent interview, Senator John Thune, who is in the group working closely on plans for the healthcare bill, suggested that Medicaid federal spending will continue and will “increase every year at the rate of inflation.”
- Medicaid’s current expansion cannot continue at its current rate.
- Misinformation is being put out into the public forum.
- Plans for a new system will offer more medical coverage options, encouraging competition and driving down premiums. The power for this will be shifted back to individual states.
Not too scary, right? Well, here’s what the critics are saying.
Alarmingly, the Congressional Budget Office, who provide nonpartisan analysis, and the Joint Committee on Taxation, have assessed the changes mean that spending on Medicaid will be 26% lower by 2026 than it would under the current plans which could amount to $800 billion. Some even suggest this could result in 14 million fewer enrolled on the program by that time. However, Republican party leaders have stated that anyone who signed up to Medicaid under Obamacare will keep their coverage.
State payments will be capped under each category. There will be more funding to the elderly, disabled and children, but less funding allocated to healthy individuals who can work. In fact, the original bill stated that from 2020, there will be a freeze on Medicaid expansion meaning states will not be provided any extra funding for signing up new residents to the program. Under the renamed Better Care Reconciliation Act, this has been extended to 2024, although will be reduced in the years leading up to this time.
This leaves questions about how states will change their enrollment criteria and be able to afford new enrollees.
What About Medicare?
Medicare, which provides cover to some of the most vulnerable, has assured enrollees in the past that the trust was protected until at least 2029. However, while many sources talk about Trumpcare in relation to its effect on Medicaid, there isn’t much mention on Medicare. Could this be a good sign? Some sources say that the most recent law provisions will leave much of Medicare intact whereas critics are claiming the wider ramifications of the new bill can’t be predicted. For now, the jury’s out until we get more information and analysis in this area.
The Future of Medicaid
The Better Care Reconciliation Act has caused much controversy, with Democrats openly rejecting the plan and some Republicans unsure about the changes. As it stands, the Government is holding its stance that spend will continue on Medicaid, but that expansion must be reduced due to high expenditure on the project, taking up a large percentage of each state’s budget. Critics are concerned this will leave fewer people able to enroll in the program, while senators insist their plans will create more affordable options for people to choose from, providing viable alternatives to Medicaid in the future. There is no denying there are some big changes to come, but the long term effects, whether positive or negative remain unknown for now.
Worried about health care?
It’s an anxious time in health care, so it’s important to have a local drug store who can provide personal advice and services. Walker’s Drug Store has been helping residents in Charlotte for almost a century. We provide advice, over-the-counter medications and can help you with all your prescription needs after you’ve seen your Doctor, including delivery straight to your door.
Open Enrollment for 2018 health coverage runs from November 1, 2017, to December 15, 2017, with enrollment to Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) open all year round. If you need to talk to someone about your prescriptions or get some health advice, we’re here to help.
To speak to one of our pharmacists, contact us or pop in and see us. We’re happy to help.