By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

With Congress possibly converting more funding for low-income social services, such as Medicaid, into block grants, data demonstrate that doing so leads to less funding overall across time.

According to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, since 2000, funding for the 13 major housing, health and social services block grant programs in the federal budget has declined by a total of 37 percent. Inflation has partly eaten away at the funding, as has population growth. Congress, however, seems poised to advance the grants, which allow state and local governments more latitude in implementing them.

“Our examination strongly suggests that even if a new block grant’s funding in its initial year is similar to the existing funding for the programs merged into that block grant, the initial level likely won’t be sustained,” the Center states in a report on the data. “This decline in funding is intrinsic to the structure of block grants… [and] this means the funds are used in diffuse ways and their impact is difficult to assess. Lacking compelling evidence of their effectiveness, national policymakers are more likely to cut block grant programs in subsequent years or to allow their levels to erode over time.”

To read more about the data review, go here: