Cantwell Blasts Trump Administration, Health Secretary for Proposed Budget Cuts to Medicaid, Medical Education

Trump Budget would cut Medicaid by $1.4 trillion over the next decade, leaving more than 11 million Americans uninsured; Trump budget would also cut medical education programs despite the need for 90,000 additional doctors by 2025

Washington, D.C. – Today in a Senate Finance Committee hearing on President Trump’s budget proposal, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) grilled Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar about the Administration’s continued efforts to gut the Medicaid program, while giving massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

More than 1.6 million Washingtonians get their health care through Medicaid, including families, seniors, people with disabilities, and veterans without access to VA health care services.

“After giving away billions of dollars in tax breaks to big corporations, President Trump wants to cut Medicaid through block grants as the only solution…I just don’t agree with it,” said Cantwell. “We’ve been suspecting that this is what might happen now after the tax bill passed, that people are going to go back to trying to block grant Medicaid. And just mark me down as very opposed…We’re already doing the job of reducing the cost, so the notion that somebody wants to create a budget mechanism to cut people off Medicaid – my providers, the community services, the children’s health – they’re just not going to support it.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the recently-passed Trump tax bill gave more than $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to large corporations and is expected to increase the deficit by more than $2 trillion over the next decade.

Cantwell has been a leading defender of Medicaid in the Senate, sounding the alarm over the effects that cutting and capping the program will have on patients and their families in Washington state. She has also advocated for innovation within health insurance programs as a tool to cut costs, including the Basic Health Plan. Over the past year, Cantwell has heard directly from concerned Medicaid patients, health care providers, and advocates across Washington state who would be negatively impacted from cuts to the Medicaid program. Cantwell has also heard directly from her constituents at multiple town halls in Washington. 

Cantwell also pressed Secretary Azar on the Administration’s proposed $48 billion in net cuts to graduate medical education programs. Federally-supported graduate medical education is critical to training an adequate and balanced physician workforce to serve all communities.  According to the Robert Graham Center, Washington state will need 1,695 additional primary care physicians by 2030, a 32 percent increase. 

A full transcript of Cantwell’s questioning can be found HERE.