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Block Grants and Waivers in Medicaid

As Medicaid costs escalate, decision makers are evaluating waivers and block grants as a potential coverage option that offers greater flexibility.
Date last upated: December 6, 2012

CHI provided this fact sheet/presentation to policymakers and other health care leaders who attended the 2012 Hot Issues in Health Care legislative conference.

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership that provides health coverage to low-income individuals. With escalating costs and record enrollment, decision makers are asking whether they have flexibility to negotiate program changes with the federal government. Medicaid waivers and block grants are hot topics in these discussions.

In general:

  • Block grants and waivers are tools that increase state flexibility in administering federal programs.
  • Block grant proposals aimed at reducing federal Medicaid spending transform the program from an entitlement.
  • Colorado has long used waivers to expand or redesign Medicaid services.