Medicaid funding cuts will have painful consequences for seniors
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The latest report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirms that millions of seniors will be hurt by the so-called Senate GOP health care bill.  The numbers don’t lie.  The Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act is not a healthcare bill at all. 

It is a tax windfall for the rich and pharmaceutical companies — paid for by gutting the Medicaid program, which covers more than 60 percent of long-term care costs for our nation’s seniors.   According to the CBO, the Senate bill would slash Medicaid funding by $772 billion over the next decade.

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These cuts will have painful consequences for seniors. The CBO says that 15 million Medicaid beneficiaries will lose coverage within 10 years. That includes nearly one million low income seniors who rely on Medicaid for long term care and for help paying Medicare costs, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress.

 

Seniors suffering from chronic conditions who have already impoverished themselves to qualify for Medicaid should not be denied skilled nursing care — whether in a nursing home, in the community, or in their own homes.  The CBO report also confirms that a disproportionate number of “near seniors” (age 50-64) will lose health coverage under the Senate bill.  The uninsured rate for near seniors earning below 200 percent of the federal poverty line will double. That’s because many older Americans will face unaffordable premiums, co-pays, and deductibles for private insurance.

What is the real rationale for depriving some of our most vulnerable citizens of health coverage? For advocates of the bill, it seems to be tax relief for the wealthy. A fresh analysis by the Tax Policy Center finds that nearly half of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to the highest-earning 1 percent of households (making $875,000 or more).

The top 0.1 percent would receive an average tax cut of nearly $250,000. By comparison, a middle-income household would see a meager $280 in tax relief. There is something cruel and immoral about imperiling long term care for needy seniors while doling out huge tax cuts to those at the top of the economic ladder.

Millions of Americans got a temporary reprieve Tuesday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE delayed this week’s vote on the healthcare bill. GOP holdouts will be under intense pressure from party leadership and the White House to switch their votes to yes. We have seen this play before on the House side.

Opponents of the bill caved after being offered token concessions that gave them political cover, but did nothing to save health coverage for Americans who need it. Seniors and their advocates must not let that happen again. We must act quickly to send a stern message regarding the “Better Care” act:  Senators need to care more about the human consequences of repealing and replacing ObamaCare and less about lining the pockets of the rich.

Max Richtman is president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.


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