AARP: Ryan plan would limit Medicaid innovation

Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal would stand in the way of innovative programs to improve care for people on Medicaid, AARP said in a policy paper released Wednesday. The seniors lobby also said Ryan’s proposal would hit elderly low-income patients especially hard.

Ryan’s budget, which the House passed before the spring recess, proposes converting the federal government’s share of Medicaid funding into block grants to states. But the existing federal role is what opens the door to testing new and innovative ideas, AARP said.

The Health and Human Services Department often provides the money for states to experiment with new approaches — for example, a recently extended program that tries to move patients out of nursing homes in favor of care provided in their homes.

The policy paper also says Medicaid block grants would be especially harmful for people who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Those beneficiaries make up a small but especially expensive segment of the Medicaid population. They could therefore become an "obvious target" when states' grants run out and they need to cut services, according to AARP.