Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Ryan, GOP Launch New Attack on Social Safety Net

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As proof that they learned nothing from their party's thrashing in 2012, House GOPers again voted for the absurd budget put forth yet again by that self-appointed "budget expert," Paul Ryan. Every Republican congressman from Virginia voted for that budget, and they should be ashamed of that vote. It's not only morally wrong; it's foolish.

As Rep. Jim Moran noted in his statement on the budget vote, "According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 66 percent of its $5 trillion in non-defense budget cuts [in Ryan's bill] over ten years come from programs that serve low and moderate income Americans." Medicaid alone would be cut nearly $1.4 trillion over the 10-year period. My question is simply this: Who are the Republicans, including Virginia's Republicans, proposing to drop from Medicaid rolls?

Ryan's budget would get some of its Medicaid savings from repealing the Affordable Care Act, an example of the impossible smoke-and-mirrors he uses to make his "arithmetic" work. Then, he would turn Medicaid itself into a block grant to states with an annual hard cap on federal money. That means that someone at some level of government will have to make horrible decisions about who lives and who ultimately dies.

Medicaid is NOT a program that serves lazy adults who should be finding their own health insurance through work. Poverty alone does not mean a person qualifies for the program, either. All but about 15% of Medicaid goes to three groups: the elderly in nursing homes who have spent down their entire estate before becoming eligible (24%), the severely handicapped or blind who are incapable of work (44%), and very poor children (17%). In Virginia, the remaining 15% of Medicaid recipients have to be the poorest of the poor, with annual incomes below $9,000.

Perhaps the GOP could set up those "death panels" Sarah Palin talked about in 2008 to decide who won't be covered any more. Their job would be to decide which old people should be left to die at home, which severely handicapped people would be left to waste away, which children deserved no health care. What Ryan is setting up is a system where someone, either on the state or the federal level, will have to decide who is worthy of continued life and who is not.