A new program that allows states to receive their Medicaid funding for select adult beneficiaries as a block grant will not lead to cuts in the program, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma argued in an op-ed Thursday.

In the piece published in the Washington Post, Verma defended the Healthy Adult Opportunity program, which the agency unveiled in late January. The optional program will allow participating states to receive a block grant for a specific population enrolled in Medicaid — adults under the age of 65 who aren’t eligible for Medicaid on the basis of disability or who aren’t eligible under a state plan.

CMS leader Seema Verma

Verma described criticism of the proposal as “fear-mongering.” 

“Let me be clear: Fearmongering notwithstanding, HAO does not cut Medicaid funding. This optional demonstration continues federal funding to states based on their historical spending with a reasonable growth rate,” she wrote. 

“The alarming misinformation swirling about HAO is creating fear and uncertainty for millions of Medicaid beneficiaries who will never be affected. Those responsible for causing them needless worry should be ashamed. It’s worth taking some time to cut through the noise and talk about facts,” she added. 

Long-term care providers have been skeptical of the block-grant initiative and argued it could make it harder for them to receive proper funding.

Verma also noted that Medicaid is either the “largest or second-largest budget item” for states and the program would help them prioritize the funding for those who need it most. 

“Those who are railing against the Trump administration’s ‘cuts’ to the Medicaid program are railing against a policy that doesn’t exist,” she concluded. “We owe it to the millions of Americans for whom Medicaid is a lifeline to face its structural problems head-on — not to recycle stale ‘solutions’ that have already failed. Medicaid recipients have waited long enough.”