Democratic lawmakers say a key GOP talking point that Medicaid expansion is leaving disabled and mentally ill individuals without care is an example of “alternative facts” and has no bearing on reality.
During a House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing Tuesday, a witness chosen by GOP lawmakers appeared to link the decision of 31 states to expand Medicaid to a phenomenon in which disabled adults and children are left waiting to access home and community-based services.
“Some states have signed up more than four times as many able-bodied adults as they said would ever enroll,” said Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank. “These enrollment and budget trends mean even fewer resources will be available for services to seniors, poor children, and individuals with disabilities.”
He noted that there are nearly 600,000 individuals on waiting lists for home and community-based Medicaid services.
To further illustrate his point, Archambault played a news clip during his testimony about a disabled girl in Arkansas who had been waiting for years to get these services.
Earlier this month, Republican lawmakers also cited these waiting lists as evidence of the need to reform the program back to its original mission to serve the most sick and needy patients.
At Tuesday's hearing, Democrat lawmakers sought to characterize this talking point as nonsense.
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) noted that despite his state expanding Medicaid, there is no waiting list for home and community-based services. He then revealed that 61% of those on the waiting list outlined by Archambault are in states that did not expand Medicaid, with Texas and Florida having the largest number of residents waiting.
“What we're seeing here from the witness today is a parade of 'alternative facts' designed to obscure the simple truth. Medicaid expansion is working,” Tonko said.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) noted that if Republicans make good on an idea to reform Medicaid by giving states limited pools of money to choose how to cover their patients, the waiting time for these services will likely increase.
“Cutting, capping, or block granting Medicaid would only make the situation worse,” Pallone said.