We need a Fox News of the left. But all we have is you.
Medicaid is the biggest health insurance provider in America, covering more than 70 million with per capita spending growth that is lower than private insurers and even Medicare.
But if you think Obamacare is hard to explain, you probably have never attempted to describe Medicaid.
Our health care provider of last resort not only has different names in all 50 states but it generally includes dozens of different programs in each state, all designed to primarily assist three groups: the elderly, the disabled and the poor, especially poor kids*.
It has a smaller budget item than Medicare and Social Security, but it covers tens of millions more Americans.
The program is popular — a 74 percent favorable rating in the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which is why Donald Trump ran on never cutting it. So how does he think he can get away with the biggest broken campaign promise in modern American history?
Because Medicaid programs have hundreds of different names, many beneficiaries have no idea they’re “on” Medicaid.
Even worse, most Medicaid enrollees — or people who will likely depend on Medicaid one day, like you — have no idea that the House Trumpcare proposes to gut the program by about 25 percent and the Senate bill goes even further but slyly pushes the cuts outside the 10-year window the Congressional Budget Office scores.
The biggest cuts to an extraordinarily popular program in its 52-year existence — cuts that to many experts end the program as we know it — are scheduled to be voted on in just a few days.
And most Americans still have no idea this is even happening.
Mitch McConnell’s plan is working perfectly.
The speed and secrecy of the GOP’s assault on our health care system combined with the complicated design of Medicaid and Republicans’ willingness to outright lie about what they’re proposing has led to this, almost a complete media black out of this story:
Here are ~300 front pages from today. Few mention health care..
Zero mention how the GOP will soon vote to end Medicaid as we know it pic.twitter.com/416Y8TQF5y
— Brett Banditelli (@banditelli) June 24, 2017
This chart explains who is covered by Medicaid:
For disabled people like Michael Phillips, Medicaid is the only hope of a decent life:
Andy Slavitt on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell from Andy Slavitt on Vimeo.
And for the parents of severely disabled kids like Natalie Weaver, it’s all that keeps her family from ruin:
Look into the life of my child who suffers daily & tell me she doesn’t deserve Healthcare #HellerVoteNo pic.twitter.com/WrhAuvMFe3
— Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) June 24, 2017
But the 1 and 5 Medicare beneficiaries who also benefit from Medicaid present massive expenses promising to grow as our population ages.
With a simple statistic, the New York Times paints a clear picture of the program:
While most Medicaid enrollees are children, pregnant women and nonelderly adults, long-term services such as nursing homes account for 42 percent of all Medicaid spending — even though only 6 percent of Medicaid enrollees use them.
If the 64 percent of Americans in nursing care thanks to Medicaid knew what the GOP is proposing, there would be riots in the TV room of the nursing homes. Or possibly in the TV rooms of the kids and family members that may soon be required to pay for or provide their care themselves.
House Trumpcare makes the already strict requirements elderly nursing care higher and both bills require cuts to nursing homes that would likely force them to reduce the number of Medicaid beneficiaries they serve. And the worst of these cuts really kick in right around the time Baby Boomers by the millions hit their 80s.
Why is the GOP doing this?
It’s not to balance the budget. Nearly all the benefits of these cuts will go to corporations and the rich Americans who will get a 3.8 percent tax cut on investment income over $250,000.
The GOP is not telling seniors, the disabled and poor kids that we can’t afford their care. The GOP is saying tax breaks for the rich are more important than their care.
You’d think with this scheduled to happen in just days, people would be positioning their pitchforks in their parents’ wheelchairs. That’s what happened in 2009-2010 when we were about to expand health insurance to more than 20 million Americans.
Why hasn’t uninsuring them generated the same outcry?
The Tea Party movement was fueled by the threat of imaginary Medicare benefit cuts that never came. Where did people get the idea that the gubbermint was coming for their Medicare?
There is simply no liberal media entity that has the audience among seniors, the time and the interest to explain to people what is about to happen to one of the crown jewels of America’s social safety net. Instead this sneak attack will likely remain a sneak attack until the damage is impossible to ignore.
Our only hope is raising holy hell and making this story inescapable for the rest of June so that the constituents of these four possibly swayable Republicans let their Senators know that they understand the heist the GOP is trying to pull off:
Share all the information you can about the damage Trumpcare will do — especially to Alaska and Maine — with your Facebook friends and encourage them to do the same. And only focus on this specific Trump atrocity until it’s dead.
And know this: If they can get away with gutting Medicaid to give rich guys a tax break, Medicare and Social Security are next.
*I wasn’t even aware of the complexity of Medicaid until I interviewed Emma Sandoe, who worked on the drafting of the Affordable Care Act, for this week’s The Sit and Spin Room, coming Wednesday.
[Image by sima dimitric | Flickr]