CMS Block Grant Guidance Endangers National STD Response
January 31, 2020
On Thursday, the Trump Administration, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), issued a guidance encouraging states to apply for waivers to block grant Medicaid funding at the state level. This proposal is a dramatic shift in how the Medicaid program is structured and would weaken health care, including STD care, for our nation’s most vulnerable populations.
Medicaid currently covers more than 70 million low income Americans, including a high percentage of low-income communities of color – populations who bear a disproportionate burden of the STD epidemics. Each year, Medicaid covers an estimated 25 million STD testing and treatment visits, which lessens the burden on State Health Departments to cover the cost for STD services through separate funding streams.
This new movement by CMS to restructure Medicaid would further destabilize an already tenuous STD clinical network, worsening the raging STD epidemics and threatening any strategy to end the HIV epidemic. For years STD programs and services have been cut back and federal STD prevention funding has been effectively reduced by 40 percent since 2003. Nearly half of jurisdictions across the country have been forced to close clinics, reduce hours, or cut back staff. As a result, STDs have soared to all-time highs in the U.S.
NCSD stands with our partners in opposition to the new guidance. Block granting Medicaid will undermine our nation’s fight against STDs and HIV and will weaken our ability to provide essential access points for high quality sexual and reproductive health care. NCSD will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen STD prevention and care and will oppose policies that reduce access to high-quality sexual health care.