Tell Congress to Protect Medicaid for Immigrants


Congress is currently considering a range of different proposals that threaten access to health care for low-income families, including vulnerable immigrants and their family members.  Given the current political climate and need to address the federal deficit, threats to severely cut and dismantle Medicaid are real and need your attention.

Congress needs to know how important Medicaid is and what would happen to immigrant families if federal funding or protections to Medicaid were cut.   Please call you Senator and Representative today 6/15, and tomorrow 6/16.    You can call 1-866-922-4970 to reach your representative.

Tell your Member of Congress:

– To protect Medicaid, which is the only option right now for affordable health care for millions of Americans today, especially in today’s economy;
– To stop balancing the budget on the backs of low-income and working families, children, and seniors who need basic health care and other critical support;
– To better represent the needs of the majority of American’s families and to stop providing tax breaks to the wealthy few and corporations.

Current Threats to Medicaid:

It’s hard to keep up with all the proposals being discussed in Congress about ways to address the federal budget and the federal deficit.  For example, Congress is considering balanced budget amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which would trigger spending caps and severe spending cuts to health and overall spending.   In addition, Congress is reviewing whether or not to raise the debt ceiling, in exchange for dismantling Medicare and Medicaid as it operates today.   Threats to Medicaid include two specific attacks:  1) repeal of the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements, and 2) extreme cuts to federal Medicaid funding through block grants, spending caps or other spending cuts.

Repeal of Maintenance of Effort (MOE) Requirements:

As a way to address their state budget deficits, a few vocal Governors are asking for “state flexibility” from Congress by calling for a repeal of Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements in Medicaid.  The MOE are federal requirements that were passed in the Children’s Health Reauthorization Act of 2009 and the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that prevent states, until 2014 or later, from reducing eligibility and services that are currently provided in Medicaid and CHIP.  This includes protecting successful state efforts to streamline application and renewal procedures, to improve to outreach and enrollment of hard to reach populations, and to expand much needed Medicaid coverage.  In short, Congress originally enacted the MOE protections in order to protect existing affordable coverage for millions of low-income Americans and to use Medicaid as the foundation for health reform and health coverage expansions.

Nothing has changed the original need for the MOE protections.  In fact, in our current economic downturn where Americans are losing job-based health coverage, more Americans, not fewer, are seeking Medicaid, often as their only source of affordable health care.  Repealing the MOE would not only undermine health reform but it would result in families, seniors, children, and persons with disabilities not being able to see a doctor and seeking the care they need before their condition becomes a costly emergency.

Medicaid Blog Grants & Spending Caps:

A block grant or spending cap would likely mean devastating cuts to a program that provides cost-effective health coverage for vulnerable populations, and would disproportionately affect seniors, persons with disabilities, women and children.  Spending caps or block grant proposals do nothing to bring down skyrocketing health care costs.   Medicaid is already significantly more efficient and cost-effective than private insurance.  These proposals would not save taxpayers money and instead simply shifts costs from the federal government to states, health care providers, and all of us.  If health care spending is capped or Medicaid is turned into a block grant, we would be turning back the clocks on fixing our broken health care system rather than ensuring more Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.

Immigrants in Medicaid:

Current rules are already fairly restrictive of which immigrants are eligible for federal Medicaid, thus the majority of Medicaid beneficiaries who would be harmed by federal Medicaid cuts are low-income citizens and lawfully residing immigrants.  Medicaid provides comprehensive coverage to low-income, lawfully residing women and children, seniors and persons with disabilities, and emergency coverage under Emergency Medicaid to other low-income immigrants.  In many states, Medicaid provides low-income immigrant families, who work but are disproportionately uninsured, their only access to affordable health coverage.  It is often only through Medicaid that lawfully residing immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members are able to obtain culturally competent and linguistically appropriate, affordable health care for themselves or their family members.

If the MOE is repealed, or if cuts are made to Medicaid through spending caps or block grants, low-income immigrant families, especially seniors, women and children, will lose access to basic, affordable health coverage.  A repeal of the MOE requirements could lead states to further restrict or reduce existing eligibility and benefits in Medicaid and CHIP in a manner that disproportionately harms immigrants, especially women and children.  This would not only increase the likelihood of costly emergencies but would further add to existing health disparities.  If federal funding or protections are removed from Medicaid, Congress would be adding rather than removing existing barriers that already prevent immigrants from accessing affordable health care.  Immigrants and the nation as a whole can’t afford for that to happen.

For more resources and talking points on the threats to Medicaid:
National Health Law Program – Talking Points on Medicaid Block Grants & Spending Caps
Families USA Medicaid, the Budget and Deficit Reduction:  Keeping Score of the Threats
First Focus Medicaid Works: A Review of How Public Insurance Protects the Health and Finances of Children and Other Vulnerable Populations
Center on Budget and Policy PrioritiesReport on the Impact of Repealing the Maintenance of Effort Requirement, Medicaid Block Grants
Coalition on Human Needs and the Strengthening America’s Values and Economy (SAVE) For All Campaig


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