In my last post I spoke about the Senate health care bill and how they needed to find a way to compel insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions while eliminating the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. This should come as no surprise, but they found their target: Medicaid.
But first, a little background. Life expectancy (ie, the average age when you can expect to die) shot up in the 20th century. In 1900 it was 47 years. But 100 years later that number increased by 60% to 75 years. By the 1950s and 1960s it became clear that people were living longer after they retired from work, and often lost health insurance. On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that led to the creation of Medicare.
In addition to the elderly, we found that millions of poorer Americans were locked out of even basic healthcare. The same bill that brought us Medicare also brought us Medicaid.
By 2011 CNS News estimated that over 108,000,000 Americans accessed health care from one or both of these programs. On May 21, 2015 Donald Trump promised not to cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Simply put, President Trump’s promise to sign whatever version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) breaks his previous promise. The House version (HR1628) would, in the next 10 years, cut Medicaid by $880,000,000 and throw 14,000,000 Americans overboard.
We’re still waiting on the numbers on the Senate bill (the Congressional Budget Office should have the numbers early next week), but early analysis shows these numbers won’t be any better.
So why should we care about Medicaid? Fair enough. There are those who honestly believe that poverty is a self inflicted wound and that by providing anything we are encouraging laziness.
But many Americans depend on Medicaid on either end of life. According to their own web page, Medicaid provides health insurance to 35,000,000 children and 35,000,000 elderly.
As a nation we’re much better off providing health care to children. Not treating children for an earache with antibiotics places the child at risk for meningitis or hearing loss. Not vaccinating children places them at risk for a host of dangerous and preventable diseases. Healthy children become healthy adults. They grow up, get jobs, and create wealth that provides for all of us.
On the other hand, there is little downside to ignoring the elderly (except that they vote in high numbers). Nobody wants to spend the last years of his life in a nursing home, but 60% of nursing home residents rely on Medicaid for their care.
In other words, funding Medicaid does two things: it makes our children less dependent on needing further treatment and it insures our elderly poor aren’t found days after their death or don’t die on park benches.
Then again, believe President Trump’s promises at your own risk.