Right-wing ideologues are quick to call Medicaid a government handout for the ‘undeserving’ poor, but are also quick to forget the reason it was created in the first place.
The secretive senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, was finally unveiled on Thursday. And, although McConnell gagged on his own verbal gymnastics in trying to explain it in a televised statement, it remains at the core of a radical conservative plan to dismantle America’s social safety net.
If the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare is signed into law, the first part of the social safety net to fall will be Medicaid.
According to NBC News,
The major change to health care comes in the form of Medicaid. The bill winds down the expanded Medicaid program under Obamacare after 2020 — a longer timeline than the House health care bill that was passed in May. But it also makes deeper cuts to the program in the long run, by 2025, through changing the federal funding allocation formula for states to receive fewer federal dollars for Medicaid recipients. The bill also allows states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
While right-wing ideologues are quick to call Medicaid a government handout for ‘undeserving’ poor people, they are also quick to forget the reason it was created in the first place. Part of the Social Security Amendment of 1965 and President Johnson’s war on poverty, Medicaid established a moral baseline for low income Americans’ access to health care.
Over the years, Medicaid has become a lifeline for the working poor, seniors in nursing homes, and the disabled, as well as veterans. And as income inequality has grown, so has the need and costs of Medicaid.
For Republicans like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan, the money spent on safety net programs for the poor should instead be redistributed to wealthy Americans in the form of tax cuts. This philosophy is the driving force behind Obamacare repeal and the dismantling of the social safety net.
As the Los Angles Times points out,
This is not a healthcare bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a reduction in government funding for healthcare. The measure would constitute one of the largest single transfers of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history.
The Congressional Budget Office projected that the repeal bill passed by the House in May would cost 23 million Americans their health coverage by 2026. The Senate bill isn’t likely to change that calculation by much.
The Republican bill also rolls back the taxes on higher income Americans that were used to fund the Obamacare subsidies that made insurance policies more affordable. It also fulfills a long-wanted GOP goal to convert Medicaid into a block grant program to states. However, the danger with block grants is federal funding caps, and the ability of states to set up their own guidelines on how the money is spent. Requirements in some states could become so strict, millions who currently have coverage could be cut off.
Few are discussing the moral implications of phasing out Medicaid, but they are quite real. How the richest nation on earth addresses the issues of poverty and heath care, especially for the disabled and working poor, says a lot about America’s moral standards and the corrupting power of lobbyists.
Millions of lives are at stake here, and who reaps the benefits of collected tax dollars will define the moral and ethical face of this nation for generations to come. If the Republican Party has its way and succeeds in dismantling America’s social safety net, it will be hard to claim that what they’ve done is ‘great.’
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