Threat of Medicaid block grants could be axed under Biden

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The new HHS administration has been ordered to review all policies and waivers that may restrict Medicaid “coverage.”


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Long-term care providers who opposed a federal proposal to turn the Medicaid program into a block grant system may get a solid stamp to their leanings under a new move by President Joe Biden. 

Biden on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at strengthening the Medicaid program and Affordable Care Act. Among its actions, the order tasks several agencies, including the  Department of Health and Human Services, to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance and policies related to Medicaid.

It also calls on them to examine “demonstrations and waivers, as well as demonstration and waiver policies, that may reduce coverage under or otherwise undermine Medicaid or the ACA.” 

Medicaid expert Joe Weissfeld noted that order could be the demise of block grants, which were pushed on a national scale by the Trump administration. He told Inside Health Policy the hope is that the order “marks the beginning of the end of work requirements, block grants, and attacks on reproductive health in the Medicaid program.”

A spokesman for the American Health Care Association once called block grants “an existential threat” to long-term care providers.

Last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced its “Healthy Adult Opportunity” (HAO) program, which allowed participating states to receive a block grant for a specific population enrolled in Medicaid. That initiative was met with backlash from long-term care providers, among many others.CMS in mid-January approved an unprecedented demonstration for Tennessee to convert its Medicaid program into a block grant system.


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