Talks of Medicaid Cuts Spark Outrage

By Shawn Dye, a summer intern

Trim the fat. Cut the waste. Save what’s necessary. The hustle and bustle in the Capitol in the midst of these budget talks continues to expose the real priorities of members of Congress. Based on the current debate, I’m convinced that some legislators believe that the American people and their health are the fat and waste of this country.

The fact that members of Congress now question whether or not Medicaid and affordable health care for their constituents is necessary perplexes me. There are still millions of taxpaying Americans who have felt chest pains or endured long periods of illness but sit in silence out of fear of not being able to pay for treatment. Some have even gone as far as to entertain the alternative of taking their own lives to escape their health problems. Is it just to shut down a lifeline that allows the base of the nation to avoid those situations?

Senators Al Franken, D. Minn., Claire McCaskill, D. Mo., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D. R.I., say it is not. I recently attended a Medicaid rally where senators joined with community organizers, doctors, a number of health groups, and Medicaid recipients to raise awareness about potential cuts to this vital program. The testimonials were powerful, the political rhetoric was passionate, and the energy in the room was contagious.

Speakers described the care of a premature baby girl, the freedom of not being confined to a nursing home, and the possibility of rehabilitation after an extreme case of insomnia – all of which was due to Medicaid. Rally speakers made sure to capitalize on the fact that, if cut, the livelihoods of millions—especially children and seniors would be at stake. Senator Franken remarked that some of his colleagues in Congress believe that “the average poor, sick kid hasn’t paid enough.”

Tough decisions have to be made in Washington. I think everyone knows that. But throwing programs like Medicaid onto the cutting block is simply unjust.