Has Chris Christie Set a New Low for Medicaid?
The New Jersey Republican's proposed plan could eliminate coverage for anyone earning more than $5,317 a year.
Governors across the country are trying to roll back Medicaid in the name of slashing spending. But New Jersey's Chris Christie has just proposed benefit cuts that may be even more extreme than the rest. In attempt to cut a whopping $300 million from the program, Christie has put forward a proposal that could eliminate Medicaid coverage for any adult who makes more than $5,317 a year, or 25 percent of the national poverty level, the Associated Press reports.
The cut would throw some 23,000 New Jersey residents out of the program, on top of the 1,400 who are already losing their state-subsidized coverage this year due to Christie's budget cutbacks. In recent years, the state had been aggressive about expanding coverage for the needy and vulnerable through Medicaid and New Jersey FamilyCare, another program for low-income families—at one point covering families up to 185 percent above the federal poverty line, according to Joan Alker, co-executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown's Health Policy Institute.
Though Republicans haven't been shy about pushing Medicaid cuts, Christie may have set the bar at a new low, Alker adds. That said, it's highly unlikely that Christie's proposal will ever take effect, even if it passes the New Jersey statehouse. The Obama administration would have to grant the state a waiver to make such drastic cutbacks, and presumably it won't be inclined to do so. But Christie's plan could push the goalposts even farther to the right on Medicaid.