Nancy Spillane: Trump is ripping heart out of Medicaid
January 22, 2018
Donald Trump is trying to destroy Medicaid as we know it. He recently announced that states could impose labor requirements on people who receive health care through Medicaid. Not only does this rip the heart out of Medicaid's coverage guarantee, it robs health care from people who cannot work because of a chronic condition, because they care for loved ones or because they are in a nursing home.
The core of Medicaid's mandate is to make sure people trapped in poverty can access doctors, medical care and long-term health care. Imposing labor undermines Medicaid’s mission. It is also a backdoor attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid access.
Worst of all, these changes will kill people. Losing health care coverage results in people losing their lives. Republicans are trying to demonize Medicaid as welfare even though recent studies prove that “able-bodied” Medicaid participants who are not working are either providing care for a loved one, or are actually disabled.
Right now, governors and state legislatures are weighing whether requiring labor in exchange for health care helps or hurts them politically. Doing so is not just politically foolish, it is absolutely immoral.
Past Democratic and Republican administrations have agreed that states cannot force people into labor. Trump is trying to change all that.
The new administrative guidance strongly implies that any labor requirement, no matter how stringent, will be supported. States could decide that people with long-term conditions have to work, anyway. Or, they could steal health care coverage from people who cannot work because they serve as caregivers for loved ones – a move that could disproportionately hurt women of color, who are more likely to care for family.
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Colorado Governor Hickenlooper recently said on NPR that less than 5 percent (less than 65,000) of our state's Medicaid recipients are made up of the poor on whom this would have an affect. That's because children, who make up nearly half of Medicaid enrollees, are excluded.
So are the more than 10 million people on Medicaid because they have a disability? More than four in 10 adults with Medicaid coverage already work full time, and most others either go to school, take care of a relative or are too sick to work.
Donald Trump is leaning on false, racialized stereotypes about lazy welfare beneficiaries to gin up hatred and steal health care from countless Americans. The ultimate goal is to leave Americans dependent on big corporations and cruel bosses for their very survival. We cannot let that happen.
Given that Rep. Scott Tipton votes 95.2 percent "in line" with Trump's positions and Sen. Cory Gardner votes 93.2 percent "in line" with Trump's positions, we all should be very worried that these two will be punishing the poor in Colorado on this issue as well. Please let Congress know that we are not interested in punishing the poor with threats of removing their health care.