May 14, 2018
President Trump signed his executive order to add work requirements to all public assistance programs. It was the dog whistle for state politicians to aggressively begin the process of rolling back the recent Medicaid expansion. Their goal? To strip millions of working people off the Medicaid rolls.
The expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act gives some 11 million working class people Medicaid coverage if they are just above the poverty level. It enables them to work and to be able to move between jobs, and still retain coverage for themselves and their families. As limited as it is, it is attacked by Republican politicians who call it “a handout to people who are just too lazy to work.”
They intend to start eliminating coverage for anyone who does not meet complete disability requirements. Taking people off the federal programs means the states won’t have to put in their share of matching funds, and frees up tax money the politicians want to spend elsewhere.
Politicians know that 60 percent of these Medicaid receivers already work. The point is actually not to make them work. It is to eliminate them from the program by creating a bureaucratic nightmare for qualifying and reporting, a nightmare to navigate.
These latest attacks are linked to the politicians’ unrestrained push to cut corporate taxes in every state and at the federal level – cuts that result in the elimination of services and of jobs in the public sector, jobs that have traditionally provided benefits.
Workers are being forced into the only place jobs are being offered: the private sector, where fewer and fewer jobs include health benefits. Part time, temporary, no benefits, bad wages: workers, including teachers, are working two and three jobs, and selling blood plasma to make ends meet. In this environment, Medicaid is what keeps many workers able to continue working in marginal jobs.
Kentucky was the first state to implement the new reforms. Fully one third of the entire population of the state is already on Medicaid due to unemployment and poverty! Now many are facing a loss of health care. Michigan politicians are targeting their cuts against the populations of Detroit and Flint. Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah – all are in line for the cutbacks, with more states to follow.
And no election will stop it. No politicians, Democrat nor Republican, will lead a real fight to force Wall Street and the banks to give back what they have stolen; to provide decent pay for full time work, and transportation to get there; to reinstate public jobs and health care and retirement benefits.
Even those with “good jobs” are hanging off the edge of this same cliff – one step from unemployment and Medicaid.
The push-back has to come from us – from the working class and its allies – from those who can – before all of our sick and disadvantaged ones lose even more.
It is time to get mad and united and to fight back on a national level. If the teachers can do it on their limited incomes, and with little experience, imagine what the organized working class could do!