Today marks the 53rd anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare, two crucial health programs that serve as a lifeline to more than one-third of Americans. Despite the essential health care services these programs provide 125 million people, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have worked to dismantle Medicaid and Medicare. Here’s how:
- As the cost of drugs skyrocket, President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress will not allow Medicare to negotiate for better prescription drug prices. Under current law, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with drug manufacturers on behalf of Medicare Part D enrollees. Although it would decrease both federal spending and beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, a policy allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries was noticeably absent from President Trump’s recent prescription drug announcement.
- President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have repeatedly tried to slash funding for Medicaid and impose per-capita caps on coverage. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) repeal bill, which included a per capita limit on federal Medicaid spending that would have resulted in huge cuts to Medicaid across states. After failing to pass the AHCA in the Senate, Republicans have continued to launch relentless attacks on Medicaid. Last December, the Trump Administration budget called for $1.4 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.
- The Trump Administration is encouraging states to impose work requirements and other bureaucratic restrictions on Medicaid enrollment in order to deny coverage. Experts warn that work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles designed to restrict access to health care rather than increase employment. Previous examples show that requiring enrollees verify their employment or work-related activities will reduce enrollment among those eligible for Medicaid.
Requiring people to work to maintain Medicaid coverage is particularly burdensome for older adults. Less than half of American adults ages 55 to 64 work. Some are retired, and for many others, chronic health conditions make it difficult to maintain steady employment.
- President Trump and Congressional Republicans are targeting Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest. Last December, President Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill that disproportionately benefits the wealthy. How do Republicans plan on paying for it? Speaker Ryan’s answer is clear: “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.” In an attempt to pay for these tax cuts, in April, House Republicans passed a budget amendment that would slash Medicaid funding by $114 billion in a single year alone.
- Congressional Republicans have also repeatedly voted to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest by cutting funding for Medicare. The 2018 budget resolution passed by Republicans in December 2017 cut Medicare by $473 billion and more recently, the FY2019 budget passed by Republicans on the House Budget Committee cuts Medicare by an additional $537 billion.
As we celebrate this important health care anniversary, Protect Our Care calls on our leaders to protect health care for our most vulnerable and end their assault on the health and wellbeing of the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.