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Stand up and protect the basic human right to health care

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 7/10/2017, 10:03 a.m.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator ...

• Ends Medicaid as we know it, jeopardizing the health of 40 percent of America’s children. Medicaid currently ensures comprehensive, affordable health coverage for 37 million low-income and disabled children, including 40 percent of all children with special health care needs, and covers more than 40 percent of all births. Who is going to meet this huge need if Medicaid crumbles? The BCRA would fundamentally restructure Medicaid, cap federal funds to states and end our nation’s half century long commitment to guarantee health coverage for the most vulnerable, placing tens of millions of children and other vulnerable populations – those with disabilities and the elderly – at great risk. It is astonishing to me that the Senate Majority Leader would vote to see the number of uninsured children and non-elderly adults in Kentucky rise by more than half a million in 2022 – a 231 percent increase, the third highest increase in the nation, according to an Urban Institute analysis. And that number does not include the elderly being cared for at home or in nursing homes whose health needs will be undermined.

• Slashes $772 billion in Medicaid to give tax cuts to wealthy individuals and powerful corporations, placing the interests of those who need help the most below those who need no government assistance. The 400 highest income taxpayers alone would receive tax cuts worth about $33 billion over 10 years. Millionaires would get tax cuts exceeding $50,000 a year. The Senate bill would cut $100 billion in taxes for drug companies and health insurers. The Senate should keep the tax increases originally included in the ACA to pay for expanded health care for children and adults, and take tax cuts and cuts to Medicaid – the popular, efficient safety net program that is a lifeline for tens of millions – off the dismantling and slashing table entirely.

• Makes at least 22 million more Americans uninsured, 15 million from Medicaid alone. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates 15 million people would become uninsured in 2018 and a total of 22 million people would be added to the ranks of the uninsured by 2026. The CBO concludes this bill alone would result in a 26 percent reduction in Medicaid funding over 10 years and grow to a 35 percent reduction by the end of the next ten years as the cap on funding tightens.

• Severely restricts Medicaid dollars that now help disabled children and adults remain at home, in communities and out of institutions and help schools and child protection agencies better meet children’s needs. I assume every Senator would want his or her own child or disabled family member to live at home rather than in a hospital or institution, and would want a guarantee that they would get the care they need in school, and if they need foster care could get services to help reunify their family as quickly as possible. Instead, this cruel and unjust bill offers other people’s children and adults with disabilities worse rather than better care. As states’ fiscal pressures grow from budget gaps caused by the massive Medicaid cost shift, states will be much less likely to continue offering home and community-based waivers for disabled children and adults and are less likely to be able to provide funds to schools and child protection agencies to help provide services and specialized staff for our most vulnerable children.