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Safety Net Programs at Risk with Tax Proposals

Progressives won a health-care battle in September, but nothing more. The Senate lacked the votes to repeal Obamacare, the ACA, outright and will substitute something that’s designed to benefit those among us who need it the least through the proposed tax reform bill. The proposed tax plan that passed the House last week will make steep cuts in safety net programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and others, to pay for the tax cuts.

Let us not lose sight of the fact this is a continuing war, especially when dealing with a party that has left some measure of its collective sense behind. The next battles are budget cuts, including cuts to CHIP, which will produce profound injuries to the least well off and most disabled among us.

Congress, specifically the GOP, has multiple ways to take aid from the neediest and give it to the wealthiest. One way is to cut $100 billion per year for 10 years from Medicaid and give it to the wealthiest through tax cuts. Said one member of Congress, “Budgets represent our values, and if this represents Republican values, then shame on you. That, to me, is what this budget represents—it’s about making things worse for people . . . to pay for a tax cut for wealthy people.”

Yet another is to allow CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to die. Funding for the program was allowed to lapse on Sept. 30 with Congress failed to reauthorize it. More likely, Republicans will reduce funding for the program and pull from Medicare, which will require the elderly to pay more for their coverage. This, too, will pave the way for more tax cuts to the rich. Estimates are that most states will run out of CHIP funding after the first of the year, with at least one state, Minnesota, already running out. (For a view of the House bill, see its CHIP funding proposal.)

So, let’s not rest on our laurels and believe the war on health care and the ACA has been won. It’s time to hit the phones again to project the most vulnerable among us. #159HealthCare #159Advocacy