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Pallone Floor Remarks on Resolution Condemning Trump Administration’s Attempt to Block Grant Medicaid

Feb 6, 2020
Press Release
“At the end of the day, this illegal proposal will lead to lower quality of care for fewer people.”

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of H. Res. 826, Expressing Disapproval of the Trump Administration’s Harmful Actions Towards Medicaid:

I rise today to speak in support of H. Res. 826, Expressing Disapproval of the Trump Administration’s Harmful Actions Towards Medicaid. 

Last Thursday, the Trump Administration continued its relentless campaign to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its unprecedented attack on Medicaid. Despite promising as a candidate that he would not cut Medicaid, the Trump Administration proposed just that last week.  It issued guidance that would allow states to block grant their Medicaid program.  Just another day and another broken promise from the President.

Unfortunately, like a lot of his other broken promises, this proposal could have devastating consequences on the health of millions of Americans, including those affected by the opioid epidemic.  One in five Americans have access to health care through Medicaid.  Block grants limit the amount of federal dollars states receive, forcing them to cut benefits, cut payments to doctors and tighten eligibility standards. 

The Administration’s proposal is also illegal.  Converting Medicaid to a block grant would require an act of Congress.  Our Republican colleagues understand this.  That’s why they included a Medicaid block grant provision in their failed attempt to repeal the ACA.  Congressional Republicans know that block granting Medicaid is a seismic change in the program that requires a change in the law.  I would hope they would be concerned by this illegal action and would join us in sending a bipartisan message of disapproval to the Administration.

I’d also like to refute some claims that you are likely to hear during this debate.  First, this has nothing to do with increasing state flexibility, it’s about cutting Medicaid.  States already have significant flexibility to design the Medicaid program that works best for them.  

You’re also likely to hear that the Administration’s proposal only applies to the Medicaid expansion population, but that’s just not true.  As the Kaiser Family Foundation makes clear, states could include many low-income parents and pregnant women who currently rely on Medicaid.  Imagine that: states would be allowed to cut pregnant woman off of their health coverage in the midst of a maternal mortality crisis.

At the end of the day, this illegal proposal will lead to lower quality of care for fewer people.  I encourage my colleagues to support this resolution and reject the Administration’s illegal and cruel attack on working families. 

Thank you, I reserve the balance of my time.

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