From the desk of Kelly Wolfe, director of public affairs and advocacy at Children’s Minnesota
In recent weeks the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the current administration have announced structural changes and budget proposals that could impact Medicaid and the health of children across the country.
Medicaid block grants
In late January CMS released guidance that allows state Medicaid directors to restructure their programs by implementing block grants targeting adults who qualify for Medicaid. States that choose to implement these block grants would accept a cap on the amount of federal funding they would receive, which means that in the case of a natural disaster, public health emergency or demographic changes, the state would be unable to request additional Medicaid funding from the federal government. This could put a financial strain on state Medicaid programs, of which children make up almost half, thus weakening states’ ability to care for their most vulnerable populations. While Medicaid block grants do not explicitly target children, they could impact parents’ ability to access care. Children exist in families and when everyone in the family is not receiving the health care that they need, children are affected.
Budget cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of CHGME as a stand-alone program
In addition to Medicaid block grants, the budget released by the current administration for 2021 includes cuts to Medicaid and eliminates the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program. More than 36 million children nationwide rely on Medicaid for healthcare, this includes 44 percent of our patient population at Children’s Minnesota. The current administration’s budget calls for $920 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next decade which would likely impact children’s ability to access Medicaid and the care that they need.
The CHGME program makes training available to more than half of the country’s pediatricians. At Children’s Minnesota, we utilize these funds to help us train over 400 residents and fellows each year. The recent administration proposal merges the CHGME program with the existing graduate medical education (GME) into a single capped grant program and cuts the overall federal funding by $52 billion over a decade. Currently, there is a shortage of pediatric specialists, especially in behavioral and mental health. If funding for CHGME is cut, the current shortages would be exacerbated which could impact providers’ ability to provide critical services for children.
When we invest in children we invest in our future. Protecting funding for programs that support the health and development of children is essential if we want to give children the tools they need to live a full life. Reach out to your representative and let them know that you want to see children and families’ needs put first when it comes to structuring and funding programs like Medicaid and CHGME.