CNN fact check debunks Kellyanne Conway's lie about Trump's proposed Medicaid cuts
JOHN KING (HOST): The Trump White House is trying to help sell the Senate Republican health care plan. And as they do, they’re using some only-in-Washington math and this bold promise: “If you like your Medicaid, you can keep your Medicaid.”
KELLYANNE CONWAY: These are not cuts to Medicaid, George. This slows the rate for the future and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars because they’re closest to the people in need. If you are currently in Medicaid, if you became a Medicaid recipient through the Obamacare expansion, you are grandfathered in. We’re talking about in the future.
KING: Now, does that pass the fact check? CNN Money’s Tami Luhby joins us to separate the spin from the substance. Tami, you just heard Kellyanne Conway, she says if you’re in Medicaid now, you can keep your Medicaid. Is there such an ironclad clause?
TAMI LUHBY: Well the real issue here, John, is federal funding for Medicaid. The House bill would continue paying states more for low-income adults on Medicaid expansion at that time. So it’s likely that many of those folks could stay enrolled at least for a few years. The Senate bill, however, does not do that. But what a lot of people may not realize is that both the Senate and the House would greatly reduce federal support for the overall Medicaid program, which covers more than 70 million people. And states will have to decide how to handle this drop in funding.
KING: So walk us through those numbers, then, or “slower growth” as Kellyanne Conway says. Conservatives say it’s all about giving flexibility to the states. Does that work?
LUHBY: Well let me read you what the National Association of Medicaid Directors board said about the Senate bill today. “No amount of administrative or regulatory flexibility can compensate for the federal spending reductions that would occur as a result of this bill.” So yes, states would get more flexibility, but they’d get a lot less money, too. The CBO [Congressional Budget Office] says the House will would mean an $834 billion cut over the next 10 years compared with current law. That’s a 24 percent decrease. We’re waiting for the CBO score of the Senate bill later today. But look, many of these states are cash-strapped as it is. So they would likely have to tighten up eligibility, reduce benefits, or cut payments to doctors and hospitals just to deal with these cuts from D.C.
KING: And so as you look ahead to that possibility, what’s the scope of the universe of people we’re talking about? How many people get their health care through Medicaid and Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion?
LUHBY: Well the largest group covered by Medicaid is children, nearly 35 million of them. That’s two in every five kids in America. There are also 27 million adults, 11 million of whom were part of the Medicaid expansion program. And there are nearly 19 million who are disabled or elderly. But most of the money is spent on the disabled or elderly. More than 60 percent of all Medicaid dollars go to care for these two groups.