Millions of Americans today remain uninsured. Added to this, state funding cuts may further defeat government-run health insurance programs for the poor, and offer fewer new enrollees in 2014.
The cuts plan to reduce 15 per cent in payment rates for doctors, hospitals and other care providers, higher co-pays for beneficiaries, including children, and the loss of optional benefits such as preventive care, and dental and vision services.
At least 24 states across the nation plan to slash $4.7 billion from their Medicaid plans following four straight years of budget shortfalls, according to data provided separately by the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the consumer advocacy group Families USA.
Several states hope to restrict eligibility under enhanced Medicaid plans that offer services beyond the basic mandate.
Arizona is leading that charge. It suspended new enrollments for adults without children as part of a $500 million savings package. The freeze bars access for the next three years to an estimated 100,000 people.
As Congress seeks new ways to cut the U.S. deficit ahead of a November deadline, further cuts to the $427 billion Medicaid program also are more likely at the federal level.
Medicaid is funded jointly by federal and state governments but administered by the states with federal oversight.
The growing pressures mean access to healthcare services under Medicaid may be restricted, despite its role in expanding health coverage to 32 million more people under President Barack Obama's healthcare restructuring law.
Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, which covers children who do not qualify for Medicaid, are due to add 17 million currently uninsured Americans beginning in 2014, when the law requires that most people have health insurance.
The reimbursement cuts may prompt doctors, clinics and hospitals to restrict or eliminate access for Medicaid beneficiaries.