Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Democrats pick up Clinton's Medicaid call

Joan McCarter for Daily Kos   Mon Sep 10, 2012

Here's a quick reminder of a short, but key, element of President Bill Clinton's speech at the DNC last week. Because it's just too good not to share again.

They also want to block-grant Medicaid, and cut it by a third over the coming 10 years. Of course, that’s going to really hurt a lot of poor kids. But that’s not all. Lot of folks don’t know it, but nearly two-thirds of Medicaid is spent on nursing home care for Medicare seniors who are eligible for Medicaid. […]

And a lot of that money is also spent to help people with disabilities, including a lot of middle-class families whose kids have Down syndrome or autism or other severe conditions. And honestly, let’s think about it, if that happens, I don’t know what those families are going to do.

While the Romney/Ryan cuts to Medicare have gotten the most attention in the election thus far, the Medicaid cuts they propose are much worse. They're worse because they'll go into effect immediately, and because they'll hurt not just the elderly, but also children and the disabled. President Clinton brought much needed attention to those facts, and Democrats are preparing to take up his call.

Democrats are poised to open a new and potent attack on Mitt Romney’s proposed governing agenda. And they have Bill Clinton to thank. [...]

In a statement to reporters Thursday, Neera Tanden of the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund previewed the attack, including a gracious tip of the hat to Clinton.

“Last night, President Clinton reminded the country that the Romney-Ryan plan would slash federal Medicaid spending by one-third over the next 10 years,” Tanden said. “The brunt of these cuts will be borne by elderly and disabled Americans, who receive two-thirds of all Medicaid benefits. Millions of seniors who rely on Medicaid to pay for nursing homes and other long-term care would see their benefits drop by an average of $2,500 a year. Millions of poor children would also lose critical health coverage. To look into the eyes of a poor child and say we can’t afford health care for her, but we can afford massive tax cuts for the well off and well connected is not politically courageous. It is cruel. The Romney-Ryan plan will not move us forward, it will only take us backward.”

All of the cuts Romney and Ryan have proposed are draconian, needlessly so. But none of them compare in terms of sheer cruelty to what they want to do to Medicaid. There are few American families who don't have to think about what would happen if ...? What happens if a child is born with a disability, or comes down with a severe chronic illness? What happens if a parent gets Alzheimers, or just reaches a level of infirmity that requires a nursing home?

That's everyday life for the millions who rely on Medicaid. And it's an issue that will resonate.