With the introduction of its proposed budget, the Trump Administration has continued its effort to cut the ground out from under all but the wealthiest Americans–and especially from under the people who voted for Trump.
Fortunately, that budget displays the stunning ineptitude that is a hallmark of this Administration (Hey–what’s a two trillion dollar math mistake among friends..?) and is unlikely to pass.
We often hear exhortations to “follow the money,” or to “put your money where your mouth is.” Those phrases reflect an undeniable truth of human behavior: whatever our rhetoric, where we commit our resources shows our real priorities. Trump’s budget not only makes his priorities painfully clear; it reflects his callous disregard for struggling Americans, including those who voted for him.
Time Magazine has detailed the consequences of the savage Medicaid cuts proposed by the Trump budget. Nearly one in four Americans–and 42 percent of Trump voters– rely on Medicaid. The budget assumes passage of the deeply unpopular Obamacare replacement passed by the House and currently pending in the Senate; that measure–which the CBO calculates would cost 23 million Americans their health insurance– cuts Medicaid funding by $839 billion over the next decade. The budget proposal reduces Medicaid by an additional $610 billion.
Medicaid reaches far beyond able-bodied adults out of work, despite the proposal’s rhetoric. The elderly and disabled account for around 60% of Medicaid’s expenditures, with the disabled, including the mentally ill, accounting for a full 42% of spending.
The program is the country’s largest funder of long-term care expenses, covering 40% of the costs, as well as more than 60% of all nursing home residents. For Baby Boomers nearing or past retirement age, these funds are crucial: As MONEY has previously reported, nursing homes for the elderly cost an average of $80,000 annually, and those expenditures aren’t covered under Medicare, the health program for seniors over 65. In fact, because Medicaid absorbs high healthcare costs of people with expensive conditions like dementia, it has kept private insurance around 7% lower than they would be.
Slashing funds also disproportionately affects women and children: one-half of births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid (that varies widely by state—in Louisiana, 65% of births are covered by Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation). The Children’s Health Insurance Program, which covered more than 8.4 million children in 2015, would also see its budget significantly reduced, according to Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Medicaid also provides essential health coverage for low income women, particularly women (and children) of color.
And of course, the budget continues the Republican war on women and women’s health by defunding Planned Parenthood–effectively eliminating preventive care (pap tests, breast cancer screenings) for most poor women.
Pointing to the cruelty of this proposal is unlikely to move lawmakers for whom tax cuts for rich people are the highest priority, but you would think they might realize that such a wholesale assault on access to preventive care would wildly increase overall medical costs. (The old adage “penny wise, pound foolish, comes to mind.) Trump’s budget would throw people back to the tender mercies of the emergency room, return us to the days when medical costs and nursing home fees bankrupted families, and ensconce a system in which healthcare is simply a consumer good, available to those who can afford it and too bad for the rest of you.
Destroying Obamacare and slashing Medicaid aren’t even the end of the story: the proposed budget also “severely cuts funding for science and public health agencies, including a $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute.”
Notably, the National Institute of Health’s budget would be slashed from $31.8 billion to $26 billion. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention would face cuts of more than $1 billion, including a $222 million decrease in funding to the chronic disease prevention programs, which help people with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.The National Science Foundation would face a decrease of $776 million.
Welcome to dystopia.