Yes to Medicaid block grants THE WASHINGTON TIMES
February 08, 2017 | THE WASHINGTON TIMES online article
The disability community is apoplectic about Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Rep. Tom Price’s commitment to Medicaid block grants. Yet block granting was somewhat successful under President Reagan, and President Trump can improve it.
Mr. Reagan enacted the Federal Omnibus Reconciliation of 1981, instituting block grants. Formulas based on state population, previous funding and strategic proposals were required to provide better, more cost-effective services. Mr. Reagan attached a few strings with block grants. His administration awarded funding based on states’ strategies for improving the quality of life of recipients applying Medicaid waiver programs.
Private-sector care providers delivered services based on state rates that were determined through block grants. New administrations piled on additional regulations and bureaucratic rules with penalties imposed on the agencies providing the services.
The Medicaid waiver had provisions for each state to devise plans to provide better services for persons with significant intellectual disabilities. In many instances, the results were stellar. Institutional care for people with disabilities evolved into community-based programs. Families were able to keep their loved ones at home and given minimal support. Other states were sued by the Department of Justice to provide treatment.
Medicaid block funding empowers state government to tend to the needs of their local citizenry. President Trump knows that states given the freedom to act on their own will pilot creative individual models.
Secretary Price can refine block grants to consider more effective ways to advance each state as it plans for the next decade of services for the poor and people with disabilities. Block granting Medicaid can stimulate jobs and community-based support for our most vulnerable citizens.
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