House Republicans are right that Medicaid needs to be more flexible. But more flexibility with far fewer dollars won’t improve care for seniors, younger people with disabilities, or other beneficiaries of the program. It is possible to cut red tape without slashing spending. Congress should give it a try.
Medicaid is a critical safety net for people who need personal assistance and other supports because they are frail or disabled. Besides families themselves, the program is the biggest payer of long-term supports and services, spending about $140 billion annually on this care for frail elders and younger people with disabilities. And it helps the most vulnerable seniors. While the rules vary by state, in general people are only eligible if they make less than about $735-a-month, have less than $2,000 in financial assets, and have a high level of functional or cognitive impairment.