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Dear Senate: Don’t Cut Medicaid!

AARP, 100-plus health care groups say changes would devastate the nation’s most vulnerable

120 health care groups say proposed changes would be devastating to the nation’s most vulnerable

Istock; Photo Illustration AARP

AARP and more than 100 health care organizations sent a letter this week to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch to “express grave concern about potential changes to the fundamental structure and purpose of Medicaid.”

The signers of the letter said proposed cuts included in the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) and now under discussion behind closed doors in the Senate would imperil tens of millions of consumers who rely on Medicaid for life-sustaining care.

The authors, which include the American Heart Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the American Diabetes Association, the COPD Foundation, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and other leading medical and health care organizations, said they “vehemently oppose converting Medicaid’s funding into a capped financing structure, as well as phasing out Medicaid expansion.”

The capped financing structure is reportedly under discussion by the Senate leadership, which is preparing its own health care bill. The Senate proposal, which hasn’t been made public, reportedly would phase out Medicaid expansion, which is widely credited with leading to a dramatic decline in the number of Americans without health insurance.

To underscore the importance of Medicaid to a broad spectrum of Americans, the letter notes that the program covers about 50 percent of all births, approximately 1.5 million adults with cancer, and nearly one-third of pediatric cancer patients. People with a history of cardiovascular disease account for 28 percent of all Medicaid patients, and over 6 million older Americans rely on Medicaid for long-term services and supports.

The groups also stressed that converting Medicaid financing to either per capita caps or block grants would jeopardize the capacity of states to respond to emerging public health threats such as the Zika virus and the opioid epidemic.

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