By Sara Wilensky
A previous post (The Republican Proposal to Replace the ACA), reviewed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) which is the Republican bill being considered in the House that is intended to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). AHCA also includes significant changes to the Medicaid program, which will be discussed here.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance for the poor. Medicaid has been designed as an entitlement program since its inception in 1965 (Social Security and Medicare are our two other major entitlement programs). An entitlement program means the beneficiaries who are enrolled in the program are legally entitled to the benefits of the program, in this case specified health care services. The federal and state governments are required to supply the necessary funds to cover the cost of providing program benefits. Other program designs, such as a block grant, do not have an open-ended funding requirement. A block grant, for example, provides a set amount of money for a set amount of time to cover specified services or programs. If the costs exceed the amount of money provided in a block grant program, the government is not required to provide additional funds. Instead, program benefits or eligibility might be curtailed. Continue reading