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Access Press - Minnesota's Disability Community Newspaper

Editor’s Column – July 2017

by // July 10th, 2017

It’s been rather stressful recently for just about everybody in the disability community after the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed in the House in May, after a delay on its vote. The Senate version, which was brought to the table on June 22, is said to be even worse than the House bill, and even President Donald Trump said the House bill was “mean” and a “son of a b—-.” Reportedly, Trump asked the Senate to draft a “more generous, more kind” version of the AHCA. But according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), that did not happen. There is nothing generous or kind about the Senate bill intended to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act.

The new bill will drastically cut federal healthcare funding in the first 10 years and continue on for the next 10 years. The CBO has estimated a $772 billion savings in the next decade. That is a huge savings, but at what cost? And who will really be benefiting from these cuts? Warren Buffett, the fourth richest man in the world and one of the most successful investors ever, said that the new health care bill would slash his taxes. “It was huge what they did to cut taxes for the rich,” Buffett said on CNBC. “If there’s one clear-cut message that comes out of that bill it is we’re going to cut the hell out of income taxes for the rich on investment incomes.”

President Barak Obama, who has been pretty silent since leaving office, agreed with Buffett. Obama wrote on his Facebook page that “The Senate bill is not a health care bill … It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.”

I wonder how much this will affect the average Minnesotan. According to the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services, 1.2 million Minnesotans receive public healthcare benefits. That number includes children, seniors and people with disabilities. We know that in the first 18 months of implementation, Minnesota would lose a total of $2.3 billion in federal funding and $11.4 billion by 2025.

We know that medical assistance covers 42 percent of Minnesota children and 42 percent of Minnesota births. We know that many Minnesota farmers depend on MinnesotaCare. Nursing homes and receiving other home and community care are covered by Medicaid.

With this level of cuts in federal funding, all Medicaid programs in the state of Minnesota will have to make cuts that will have a substantial impact on our most vulnerable Minnesotans.

It won’t be Medicaid as Minnesotans know it. The CBO estimates that Medicaid funding under the Senate bill would be 25 percent less in 10 years than it would have been under the Affordable Care Act. We know that Medicaid has grown to be 10 percent of federal spending because so many Americans, working and poor and disabled and aged, cannot afford healthcare on their own.

We also know that for many people with disabilities, Medicaid is a “lifelong program’” If we go to per-capita or block grants, states will have to cut programs, or cut the number of people on the programs, or do both.

Is this really what most Americans want to happen to Medicaid? Unfortunately, if it is what Americans want, they should expect that tens of millions of Americans will lose federal benefits. And the rest won’t be saving on insurance premiums; we can also be pretty sure of that.

I wrote this on the Fourth of July 2017 and looking forward to spending my Independence Days living independently in my own home. I can only hope to be doing that on the Fourth of July 2021, as well.

This summer has given us many beautiful days, and all of us should be enjoying the summer and not bottled up with anxiety and concern about the situation we may be in if the existing Affordable Care Act is replaced by the American Health Care Act bill.

Please shout out to everyone you know that the Republican plan is going to drastically change how people in the USA will live … and die.

 

 

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