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Engel Debunks GOP's Alternative Picture of Medicaid During Hearing

Engel Debunks GOP’s Alternative Picture of Medicaid During Hearing (Video)

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Eliot L. Engel, a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, addressed several Republican myths regarding the Medicaid program during today’s Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing.

In his remarks, Engel used New York’s example to counter GOP allegations that Medicaid is plagued by fraud and unsustainable. In addition, his dialogue with Judith Solomon, Vice President for Health Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, set straight Republicans’ claims that proposed legislation would improve the program.

Engel’s remarks, including his questions for Ms. Solomon, are included below.

As prepared for delivery:

 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

“We’ve heard Republicans describe their alternative picture of Medicaid before. In fact, we’ve had a hearing on most of these bills before.

“I don’t think anyone here would disagree with meaningful efforts to shrink waiting lists and afford Americans the services they need quickly. But that is not what these bills do.

“These bills represent yet another Republican attempt to gut Medicaid, based on total falsehoods.

“I think it would be helpful to talk about the real Americans for whom Medicaid is life-saving.

“First, let’s clear up any misconceptions about who Medicaid covers. Nearly a quarter of New Yorkers were covered by Medicaid or CHIP in 2015. The vast majority of New York’s Medicaid beneficiaries come from working families. These Americans can’t afford private health insurance, even with a full-time job. For them, Medicaid is a chance to stay healthy, which means a chance to work longer hours and provide for their families.

“Now, I’d like to debunk another misconception. Republicans allege that Medicaid spending is out of control. In fact, Medicaid spending is lower than the spending growth rate of Medicare and private insurance.

“Again, I’ll point to New York.

“Despite charges that Medicaid is inflexible, our state has dramatically revamped our program to improve program integrity, better care for patients, and save money. These efforts have avoided costs to the Medicaid program in excess of $1.8 billion.

“New York achieved this while expanding Medicaid and cutting our uninsured rate in half.

“There’s one more issue I’d like to address, and that is the one before us today.

“Republicans’ ideas to “strengthen” Medicaid entail delaying or denying coverage to Americans that need it to redirect funds to other parts of the program – specifically, to those states that choose to operate waiting lists for Medicaid home and community based services.

“They’re suggesting that, if states have high coverage levels, they’re also letting Americans suffer on waiting lists.

Q:           “Ms. Solomon: I’m wondering if you can help us delve into that claim. You said in your testimony that 11 states and D.C. do not operate waiting lists. I believe New York is among them, is that correct?

Q:           “Thank you. As I said a minute ago, New York cut its uninsured rate in half, thanks in part to its decision to expand Medicaid. Now, even with that major expansion of coverage, zero New Yorkers were forced onto a waiting list. Ms. Solomon: would you say that New York’s example is representative of most states without waiting lists?

Q:           “Thank you. I have one final question, Ms. Solomon: is there any evidence that refusing or holding up Americans’ Medicaid coverage – as these bills would do – would reduce waiting lists for home and community based services?

“Thank you.

“Now, if, as this hearing title suggests, Republicans are serious about “strengthening Medicaid and prioritizing the most vulnerable,” there’s a way to do that.

“The Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicaid tremendously by modernizing it and promoting program integrity. The ACA also helped America’s most vulnerable: thanks just to the law’s Medicaid expansion, more than 12 million people gained insurance coverage.

“In short: if you want to strengthen Medicaid, strengthen the Affordable Care Act.”

A video of Congressman Engel’s remarks and questions is attached. Additional information regarding today’s hearing is available here.