By: Jon Hecht
One of the most prominent aspects of the health care bill is the $880 billion cut to Medicaid, along with changes to the program which would force states to cap their spending at certain levels. It stands in contrast to the current system, in which Medicaid covers all health care needs of its enrollees. While much of the discussion and criticism of the AHCA has been around what it will mean for the elderly — and those are certainly legitimate — the cuts to Medicaid would also have a large effect on children and teenagers. Medicaid covers around 37 million children around the United States, according to the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute.
And cuts to that program could be devastating to young girls who get their health care through it. “Medicaid is already a very lean program. It spends less per capita on average than private plans,” Elisabeth Burak, Senior Program Director at the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, tells Bustle. “There isn’t a lot of fat to cut in Medicaid as it is, so with over half of Medicaid recipients being kids, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t be affected.”
Kids are the cheapest group of people to cover under Medicaid, but with them being forced to compete with other groups — seniors in nursing homes, poor people who need the assistance — Burak worries that they could nevertheless lose funding and access to care if total Medicaid spending was capped. “Even states that want to do the right thing for kids might be forced to cut back in terms of eligibility or services or payment because they just don’t have enough money in the system,” she says.
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