Medicaid block grants would devastate Arkansas health system

The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction has begun its work in Washington, looking for ways to trim as much as $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years. Lawmakers have the option of doing just about anything, including cutting budgets increasing tax revenue. While the bulk of these discussions will come in the next few months, the intent to reshape Medicaid appears obvious.

Medicaid has a tremendous impact on Arkansas. From long-term care for the elderly to early life care through ARKids First, Medicaid keeps Arkansans healthy. Improved public health leads to better outcomes in life and the economy. Unfortunately one of the ways the Joint Committee may try to “save” some money is by converting the successful Medicaid program into a block grant.

Our partners at First Focus, a national child advocacy group, released a report this month showing how devastating a Medicaid block grant would be for children nationwide. We know that in Arkansas a block grant would limit the type and amount of coverage available for low-income children. It is imperative that we keep programs in place that protect all of our kids, providing safe and healthy learning environments in schools across the state.