The American Health Care Act is full of tricks and unfortunate surprises, including a step toward “death panels.” A major change that is hidden in the text of the bill without specific detail is the changing of Medicaid funding from the current system to a block grant program that will severely limit health care for millions of low-income, poor and disabled individuals.

The Republicans state that this change will be positive in allowing states more flexibility in spending Medicaid funds. In fact, the block grant will result in severely reduced federal contributions to Medicaid and leave impossible funding burdens on many states, including Maine. States will be forced to limit spending, and in turn medical care and procedures. There are several Republican governors who oppose block grant funding, understanding the devastating effect this would have on their residents. Unfortunately, Maine’s governor is not one of them.

As a matter of necessity, funds will have to be rationed and managed care entities or “death panels” will then decide whether a child, a low-income senior citizen or a disabled person gets the care they need. In the past Republicans used the phrase “death panel” as a scare tactic to try to turn people against genuine access to health care. The “death panel” is now close to a reality with the Republican bill.

Douglas Patrick


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