By Richard Master
Today, Senate Republicans approved a budget proposal that includes $1.5 trillion in cuts to healthcare for seniors, the poor, and Americans with disabilities. The budget slashes $1 trillion from Medicaid and $500 million from Medicare, cuts that will devastate our healthcare system and vulnerable Americans who rely on these programs for health services. More than 72 million Americans get their healthcare through Medicaid, while 49 million seniors and close to nine million Americans with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare. To make matters worse, the GOP’s cuts to Medicaid and Medicare will pave the way for tax reform and help fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.
The Republican budget is a profound failure to govern responsibly. Limiting access to affordable healthcare hurts all Americans – the sick, healthy, rich, poor, old, and young alike. After all, a healthy citizenry is the first step in ensuring we have a stable, prosperous nation and a competitive economy. Moreover, the GOP budget shows how special interests and lobbyists are dictating public policy to benefit the few over the many. Republican Senators would take away healthcare from the most vulnerable in our society in order to fund tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. We’ve seen them try this before, when they unsuccessfully hid tax cuts in their ill-fated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The Republican budget not only restricts access to affordable, quality healthcare, but it also fails to fix fundamentally correctable costs in the US health system. While the rest of the industrialized world has managed to keep healthcare costs down, the US spends more on healthcare than any other country. High insurance, administrative, and prescription drug costs mean that the US has the most expensive healthcare system in the world. The fact is both Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient programs than most private healthcare options, and typically negotiate better prices for prescription drugs and hospital stays.
If Senate Republicans truly have issues with Medicare and Medicaid, they would propose real solutions to these programs that maintain coverage for vulnerable Americans while cutting down on costs. Instead, Republicans have chosen to sacrifice the health of seniors and low-income and disabled Americans to pay for their tax cuts for corporations and billionaires. What we need are solutions – not cuts – to make these programs even more effective and a return to American decency that champions affordable healthcare for all Americans.