Balancing the Budget with a Fog of Words

Words hide personal costs: ‘CHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, 100% of poverty ($20,400 for a family of three), covered benefits and ‘CSRs.’ Those programs are targeted to be reduced to balance the federal budget. At the same time current taxes on corporations and insurer will be repealed. Those tax cuts range from $95 billion to $580 billion and will go to corporations and some individuals.*

Yet, who really balances the budget? The child whose family earns $20,500 a year not $20,400? Or the The Medicaid nursing home resident who has no resources, home or relative? Where do Medicaid nursing home residents go? Medicare does not cover long-term nursing home care. Only Medicaid or some private insurance pay for long-term nursing home care. Long-term nursing home care is $5,000 to $7,000 per month.

Who is on Medicaid? Nearly 20% are children; 21% are seniors; 40% are blind or disabled and 19% are adults. ** Even Medicare cuts are proposed, but indirectly, in how it will pay physicians. In one awful year in the 1990’s, Mississippi was going to balance its state budget by cutting 13,000 Medicaid nursing home beds. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal governments and the states.  If federal funds are cut, state funds will also be lost.

Who qualifies Medicaid? People at “100% of poverty or below. But words hide Those words hides that their income cannot be more than $20,400 for a family of three, unless their state makes an exception?  Children’s is endangered because Congress has not funded the Child Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is for the children whose families are not “poor enough” for Medicaid, but too poor to afford health car.  Even Medicare is not protected. ***

These are the human costs. Do we use the poor and disabled to balance tax cuts for corporations and some individuals? Can we look ourselves in the mirror?

Add to all those changes is the unfathomable and hidden CSRs. Congress balances budgets with words no one understands and tucks them into special budget provisions that require little if any public scrutiny. In its rush to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), it repeals taxes Obamacare already planned to end in the near future.

CSRs (Cost Sharing Reductions) are taxes on Medical Device Companies, Insurance companies, and some very generous corporate employer taxes. These taxes are targeted to be cut now rather than in the future, as scheduled.

These taxes were designed to help subsidize families and individuals pay their health care premiums. The proposed CSR tax cuts are between $95 billion to $580 billion.*
Words don’t hear children cry or hear seniors and the disabled muffled cries or see the hard choices people make—health insurance or crossing fingers nothing happens. Or see or hear their despair? Yet these are the personal, human consequences of current proposals to “balance the federal budget.”

It’s death by red ink hidden in a fog of words.

©Kathleen O’Connor, December 17, 2017
For references see below:
Source: Bi-partisan Committee for Responsible Federal Budget: http://www.crfb.org/blogs/acas-cost-sharing-reductions-csrs-primer *

Repeal of Medical Device Companies tax: $10-420 Billion dollars
Repeal of Health Insurance tax: $30-185 billion dollars
One year delay of generous employer taxes: $10 to 105 billion dollars
Three year retroactive tax relief to companies for employer mandate penalty: $35 to @225 billion
Two year policy allowing HSAs to cover over the counter drugs: $10 to $5 billion dollars (over the counter drugs are not covered by Medicare)
Possible two year tax extender: $10-$40 billion
Total Tax Repeals: $95-580 billion dollars
Medicaid spending: **
https://www.kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/medicaid-spending-by-enrollment-group/?dataView=1&currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D
Medicare Cuts: ***
https://www.politico.com/newsletters/politico-pulse/2017/12/01/tax-bill-could-trigger-significant-medicare-cuts-037612

About Kathleen

Kathleen O’Connor: 30+ year health care consumer advocate, non-profit executive and author. For more information about Kathleen, please see "About" on the main content bar above.
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