Which Benefits Get Cut In Proposed Budget? [VIDEO]
Which Benefits Get Cut In Proposed Budget? [VIDEO]
The Trump administration is going to be rolling out another budget proposal on Tuesday, and the preview has already sent the media into the spin cycle. The report is that the budget will contain both a large Medicaid cut and significant food stamp reforms.
The Washington Post is reporting from an anonymous source (naturally) that Medicaid could be reduced significantly, which is sure to rattle everyone’s political cages.
For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.
Now remember, the AHCA bill that the House passed (which the Senate has yet to deal with) will supposedly roll back the Medicaid expansion that exploded under Obamacare and was responsible for those glowing enrollment numbers. As FiveThirtyEight points out:
Before the ACA, Medicaid was not an insurance program for the poor; it was an insurance program for some people who were poor. It largely covered people whose incomes were equivalent to a fraction of the federal poverty line or who met some other criteria, such as having a disability, being pregnant or being a woman with children.
Obamacare changed that, opening up Medicaid to everyone below 138 percent of the federal poverty line in states that chose to expand the program. Thirty-one states and D.C. opted to expand Medicaid, and more than 11 million people joined the Medicaid rolls who were previously not eligible. That’s the bulk of people who gained insurance coverage under the law. The GOP bill would freeze that part of the program on Jan. 1, 2020.
Is the proposed budget anticipating that the Senate will pass some version of the AHCA, which will then go through a reconciliation process, and still retain those proposed Medicaid cuts? It’s impossible to say, but I find it highly improbable that an $80 billion a year over the next ten years makes it out of both houses of Congress. Should it? Well, I’ve talked previously about what Medicaid is currently covering. It would be nice if we could have an honest debate about what we, as a society, want to see as a safety net, without being accused of wanting all poor people to die every time a budget cut is proposed. Apparently, that’s too much to ask of some people.
The other part of this anonymously sourced report claims that the other big cuts with involve food stamps.
The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis as the Obama administration eased policies to make it easier for people to qualify for benefits. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.
An average of 44 million people received SNAP benefits in 2016, down from a peak of 47 million in 2013. Just 28 million people received the benefits in 2008.
SNAP could be one of numerous programs impacted by changes in work requirements.
Josh Archambault, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank, said that giving states the flexibility to impose work requirements could lead to a raft of changes to programs ranging from Medicaid to public housing assistance.
“One of the encouraging things about putting this in the budget is that states will see if it works,” he said. “States will try it.”
SNAP already has a work requirement, which typically cuts benefits for most able-bodied adults who don’t have children. But states were given more flexibility during the recent economic downturn to extend the benefits for a longer period, something that split conservatives at the time.
These reforms to the SNAP program have already begun in Maine, where able-bodied adults with NO dependents who refused to meet the minimum requirements for enrollment found themselves off the program – and this was in 2014.
More than 9,000 Maine residents have been removed from the state’s food stamp program since Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration began enforcing work and volunteer requirements.
The new rules prevent adults who are not disabled and do not have dependents from receiving food stamps for more than three months – unless they work at least 20 hours a week, participate in a work-training program or meet volunteering requirements.
And this was ONLY for non-disabled people without dependents! Imagine what would happen if all the states embarked on similar reforms to cut down on – let’s call it what it is – outright fraud. With the economy improving, no able-bodied adult, without anyone depending on them for support, should be getting free food handouts from the government. And there could be changes in what SNAP would allow people to actually purchase, and since the government is so concerned and invested in having a healthy-as-possible population buying health insurance, why shouldn’t SNAP benefits actively limit foods to only fresh or non-processed items? Again, it would be nice to have a rational conversation about what we, as a society, want to provide for those in need, without being accused of wanting poor people to starve in the streets.
And could everyone please gather around? I have an announcement to make. *tap, tap* Is this blog on? Can everyone hear me? Okay.
Attention, all you who live in the United States of America – WE. ARE. BROKE.
There’s something called a budget deficit. (Not to be confused with our enormous national debt.) Every year, the government spends more than it takes in – and it PLANS on doing that (that’s the deficit). So we borrow money to cover that gap in the budget from places like China. Not being stupid, China charges interest. That principal, plus interest, adds up over time (that’s the national debt). No rational person would ever manage their own money this way – and if they do, it eventually catches up to them. Some file bankruptcy, some work very hard to dig themselves out of their financial hole. But the only way to dig out of a deep financial hole is to stop spending money you don’t have on things you can’t afford. One can make the argument that Medicaid and SNAP benefits are important. Fine, let’s have that discussion about what a reasonable safety net looks like. But as I’ve said before, it can’t be a hammock, especially for those with no extenuating circumstances.
At some point, Congress is going to have to approve a budget that spends less than it has in the past, in order to make sure that we have a financial future. Because imagine what would happen if we couldn’t find anyone to loan the government the money to cover its expenses. The entire train would grind to an absolute halt, and then we have to have the above discussions about our priorities out of sheer necessity to stay afloat, instead of being judicious and prudent about reducing our expenses.
The cuts have to start somewhere. Can we at least talk about it without the hyperbole and hysteria?