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Proposed Federal Medicaid Cuts Would Be Devastating, Advocates Say

woman speaks at podium
Julio Ochoa
WUSF Public Media
Kathy Castor speaks about proposed Medicaid cuts in Tampa on Tuesday.

The Republican health care proposal passed by the U.S. House last week would cut $800 billion from Medicaid over the next decade.

Advocates for people with disabilities joined U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in Tampa on Tuesday to protest the cuts.

Republicans say their plan to provide Medicaid to states through block grants would give states more flexibility in dispersing those funds.

But Karen Clay, chairwoman of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technologies, says a block grant would give Florida a set amount of money with no chance for an increase. 

"Flexibility to us means, no regulations and cuts and no rights. And you take away rights of an individual with disabilities we will wind up back in institutions in horrible conditions and lives will be lost."

In March, the secretary of Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price requesting a block grant for parts of Medicaid that Florida now receives through supplemental funding. 

Though much of the discussion since the health care vote has focused on whether pre-existing conditions would be covered under the Republican proposal, Castor said Medicaid funding cuts should not be overlooked.

About 4 million Floridians get their health care through Medicaid, including 19 percent of the state’s seniors and 48 percent of its children.

“What was hidden and not discussed that we’re trying to shine a light on today is the devastating consequences of what they did by going even farther to transform Medicaid,” Castor said. “It rips the rug out from under those neighbors.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to make changes to the health care bill before voting on it.  

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