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Westerman Pens Op-Ed Supporting American Health Care Act, Touts Efforts to Secure Medicaid Block Grants in Bill

March 21, 2017
Press Release
Article in 'The Hill' Published Late Tuesday

WASHINGTON – Late Tuesday (March 21), The Hill published an op-ed authored by Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04), which detailed his initial reluctance on the American Health Care Act before coming to support the legislation.

“When leaders in the Republican Party introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), I was not sold on the legislation,” Westerman wrote. “While it took important steps to repeal and replace ObamaCare, it did not do enough to give individuals and the states in which they live the freedom to do healthcare in a way that works locally instead of depending on mandates from Washington, D.C.”

He noted how he has been quietly working behind the scenes with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Budget Committee Chair Diane Black to “ensure conservative policies and principles were included in the AHCA.”

“When the bill came before the House Budget Committee, I was able to work with others to secure agreements from leadership and President Donald Trump that Medicaid block grants would be included in the final version of the bill scheduled for a vote this week.”

Why are Medicaid block grants an important piece of the Obamacare repeal and replace package making its way through Congress? Westerman says it is due to Medicaid’s inflexibility for states, as well as the fact that Medicaid expansion for working age, able-bodied adults has grown at a rapid rate under Obamacare (a population of nearly 368,000 people in Arkansas) while the disabled and elderly have been placed on waiting lists to receive traditional Medicaid coverage and care.

“That is why I fought for the introduction of Medicaid block grants in the AHCA,” he explained. “States that accept the block grants would be able to build integrity into their Medicaid programs and would have the regulatory flexibility to design innovative plans that work best for their citizens instead of a one-size-fits-all plan from D.C. Nonsense features like state provider fees designed to simply milk more federal money by charging a state tax on Medicaid services in order to get the federal match dollars should go away under true block granting. By prioritizing state spending, individuals who are in true need would finally be able to get off the waiting list and receive necessary, life-saving care.”

To read Westerman’s complete op-ed, visit The Hill by clicking here.