National WIC Association

January 30, 2020

Press Release: National WIC Association Opposes HHS Guidance Permitting Block Grants for Medicaid

Rev. Greenaway: “Block granting Medicaid threatens the health of low-income Americans.”



Press Contact: Natalie Moran



WASHINGTON – On January 30, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidance that would allow states to apply for waivers of Medicaid funding rules, essentially permitting block grants for adults covered through the Medicaid expansion authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Instead of joint federal-state funding, the waivers would set a defined federal contribution – capping spending at a set level.


Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), issued the following statement in response:


“Medicaid provides healthcare to over 70 million low-income Americans.  Block granting Medicaid is not in the interest of the American people and undermines the government’s responsibility under the Affordable Care Act to provide healthcare to all low-income Americans.


“This is an intentional move by the Administration to scale back safety-net programs by shifting Medicaid’s operating structure from one of responsiveness and flexibility to one of spending caps. This would essentially sacrifice many low-income people’s health at the expense of reducing the overall federal cost of Medicaid. Block granting Medicaid threatens access to healthcare for low-income people.


“This is a significant departure from the traditional operating structure for Medicaid, which enabled states to be responsive and spend what they need to ensure low-income people can access healthcare. This is especially important in times of economic downturns, natural disasters, and other events that may spur enrollment in Medicaid. Block granting Medicaid reduces a state’s ability to meet the needs of vulnerable constituents who, due to forces outside of their control, rely on Medicaid for vital healthcare services.


“Research clearly shows how participation in Medicaid, paralleled with WIC, can improve birth outcomes for low-income families. Limiting access to Medicaid through block granting could have devastating effects on the families who benefit from both Medicaid and WIC services. Additional research demonstrates that expanding Medicaid has the potential to improve low-birth weights and lower the rates of preterm birth.”

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