29 Republican Governors, including Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, have asked Minority US Senate and House leaders to block-grant Medicaid funds for the states. These governors decry the need for flexibility in managing state budgets and meeting the health care needs of their citizens. Indeed, states headed by both Democrat and Republican governors are struggling and all governors support the concepts of flexibility, transparency, accountability, and partnership as concerns federal-state appropriations and obligations.

I have great concerns, however, about block-granting Medicaid, especially as it might impact children.

Child advocates understand and agree with the need to rein in the budget and to control Medicaid costs. At same time, we are very concerned that only 22% of Medicaid spending is used by children who comprise 58% of the Medicaid population. Block-granting of Medicaid pits that non-voting, under-represented group (i.e. children) against voting and vocal constituencies.

Likewise, experience suggests that future appropriations from the federal government under a block-grant will not keep up with skyrocketing health care costs or the cost of inflation. Thus the pain of program cuts (and more political haggling) is simply thrust onto the states.

Child advocates, community and business leaders, and parents need to communicate with federally elected officials and governors now: protect our children. Do not block-grant Medicaid! However, if you do, do not jeopardize the next generation of leaders, families and advocates by compromising their health, safety, and education today….and as you address state budgets in the future!

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