Following New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s assertion that President Donald Trump’s proposed replacement of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion with a system of block grants would not lead to shrinking programs and losses of coverage, one of the state’s left-leaning policy groups is contradicting him.
During his monthly radio call-in show on New Jersey 101.5-FM, Christie said that he supports the Republican-led effort to repeal and replace Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. New Jersey Policy Perspective said that its own numbers do not bear out the governor’s assertion that block grants would allow coverage to stay level.
“I think the president understands that block grants are not about program reduction, they are about program modernization and giving flexibility to governors who really understand how their particular state can better spend their money,” Christie said.
“I think the president understands that if we go to a block grant type of situation for Medicaid — which I think we should, I advocated for that when I was running for president — what is the level of that block grant? Is it a block grant based on pre-expansion numbers or post-expansion numbers?”
NJPP’s Jon Whiten pointed to the state’s own cash welfare assistance program, which made the switch to a block grant twenty years ago. The group has estimated that 700,000 people rely on the ACA in its current state for their health coverage and that 86,000 healthcare jobs would be endangered in the event of a repeal.
“The governor’s claim that block grants ‘aren’t about program reduction’ is simply not true,” Whiten said. “And he needs to look no further than New Jersey’s own cash welfare assistance program for proof. This assistance for the state’s very poor families has shrunk by 73 percent since it was turned into a block grant in 1996 – and as a result, the program doesn’t respond to changing economic conditions and is unable to help lift children out of poverty when they need it most.
“And there’s plenty of reason to believe the story would be just as devastating if Congressional Republicans and President Trump turn Medicaid into a block grant. The federal cuts to Medicaid would likely be deep, leaving states with little choice but to cut benefits, eligibility or payments to health care providers and hospitals.”