THE BCRA WOULD REDUCE federal funding for Medicaid in Rhode Island by $1.89 billion from the years 2020-2026 according to Avalere. /BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/ANDREW HARRER
THE BCRA WOULD REDUCE federal funding for Medicaid in Rhode Island by $1.9 billion from the years 2020-2026 according to Avalere. / BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/ANDREW HARRER

PROVIDENCE – If the Better Care Reconciliation Act was passed in its current form, Rhode Island will lose $1.9 billion of federal Medicaid funding from 2020-2026, according to Avalere, a subsidiary of Invalon, a data solutions company that works with health care companies.

The GOP-led re-working of Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, looks to reduce federal spending and cut taxes by, among other things, reducing federal funds to Medicaid.

The report showed that by 2026, federal funding for Medicaid to the Ocean State would decrease 21 percent.

According to a report released for fiscal year 2016 by the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the federal government has provided just over 50 percent of Medicaid funding in the state for the past few years. That number is in slow decline, but has been fairly consistent under the ACA. Federal funding accounted for about $1.2 billion in fiscal 2016 of total Medicaid spending for covered services of $2.4 billion.

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Any reduction in federal funding would require the state to make up the loss of revenue to maintain the current level of benefits. However, a number of the state’s politicians do not think the state could make up for that  potential difference.

U.S. Sen. Jack F. Reed and U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline strongly opposed the bill on Friday, citing the cuts to funding for children.

“The cuts in the proposed Trumpcare bill would undermine Rhode Island’s ability to provide children with special needs with access to vital health care that enables them to go to school. If enacted, the Trumpcare cuts to Medicaid would have a domino effect that could drain critical resources from special education programs and force schools to pull funds from other vital areas to fill the funding gap,” said Reed.

According to an Urban Institute study supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the amended bill would reduce federal funding for non-elderly Medicaid spending in Rhode Island by $994 million in 2022 when compared with expected funding through the ACA. At the same time, because of the rollback of the Medicaid expansion that the state took advantage of and other changes, the state would spend $203 million less on Medicaid and CHIP. The report also projected that by 2022 Rhode Island would see a 196.4 percent increase in the number of uninsured residents, an increase of 104,000 people as compared to projections based on current law.

Nationally, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that federal funding will decrease by 26 percent by 2026 compared to projections of spending if current law were to remain in place, and 35 percent by 2036 under the same conditions.

“This bill is nothing more than an attempt to take away health care from seniors, working people, and children in order to give insurance companies and the wealthiest 1% a huge tax cut,” said Cicilline. “If Trumpcare becomes law, thousands of Rhode Island children will lose access to the care they need.  We can’t allow that to happen.”

New England Impact

The Avalere report broke out rankings of states based on Medicaid funding reductions in 2016.

Percentage in federal funds reductions

  1. Rhode Island, New Hampshire – 21% reduction
  2. Connecticut, Vermont – 18% reduction
  3. Massachusetts – 17% reduction
  4. Maine – 9% reduction

Drop in federal support from federal government, 2020-2026

  1. Massachusetts – $9.7 billion
  2. Connecticut – $6 billion
  3. Rhode Island – $1.9 billion
  4. Maine – $1.4 billion
  5. New Hampshire – $1.2 billion
  6. Vermont – $1.1 billion

Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.

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Senate health reform would significantly reduce Medicaid funding in R.I.