“You got to wash with the crocodile in the river, you got to swim with the sharks in the sea, you got to live with the crooked politician. It’s a cruel, crazy, beautiful world, One day…” – Johnny Clegg & Savuka
Advocates for Social Security and Medicare are busy rallying and organizing, increasing the amount, speed and intensity of their work: marching, writing letters, petitioning and contacting members of Congress at town halls and congressional offices.
“Donald Trump is a fraud.” So says the activist organization Social Security Works. “He promised repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. And the very first bill he stands behind―the American Health Care Act―would make deep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.”
New reports show Trump’s 2018 budget proposal will include about $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid and other programs such as Meals on Wheels―completely apart from the healthcare cuts―and he tops it off with additional cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance.
Donald Trump is pursuing the same bogus strategy Republicans did when they tried to create a crisis in the Social Security disability insurance trust fund.
“We fought back with one voice to make clear that our Social Security system is one program, and we won’t tolerate any cuts,” states Social Security Works. Donald Trump is attacking low- and middle-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in order to hand a $6 trillion tax break to his wealthy friends―the largest tax break in U.S. history.
The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare strongly condemned the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed by the House, for needlessly putting the healthcare of millions of older Americans in jeopardy. “Despite the bill’s name, risking the health of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens to give the wealthy an $880 billion tax cut is tremendously uncaring — and does not reflect real American values,” says Max Richtman, President and CEO of the National Committee. “In modifying the original AHCA bill to give reluctant Republicans political cover, the House leadership made a bad piece of legislation even worse.”
“Recent amendments to this cruel, ill-advised bill could put coverage for older Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes out of reach. The $8 billion (over 5 years) added to the legislation at the last minute to defray the cost of higher premiums is woefully inadequate. It’s a thin veil that covers a head of snakes.”
Equally inadequate are the meager tax credits that the GOP bill offers older Americans to buy insurance. A $4,000 annual tax credit doesn’t come to close to covering premiums for seniors ages 60-64, meaning millions of older Americans will lose coverage altogether.
The bill cuts nearly $1 trillion from Medicaid by converting it into a block grant program or imposing per capita caps, which will make it harder for impoverished seniors to access long term skilled nursing care and community or home care. Overall, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million people will be kicked off the Medicaid rolls in the next 10 years if this bill becomes law.
The AHCA reduces Medicare’s solvency by repealing Obamacare’s 0.9 percent payroll tax on wages above $200,000. This could lead to cuts in Medicare, including privatizing the program — harming current and future beneficiaries.
Under the GOP bill, insurers can charge older enrollees five times more than younger ones. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that by 2026 this provision will substantially raise premiums for older people by as much as 25 percent.
“We can only hope that the Senate majority will kill this reckless legislation before it punishes seniors – and millions of other Americans – for the crime of needing and wanting affordable health care,” Richtman says.
Barbara Russum contributed to this article.