With crumbling public education, crumbling infrastructure, low wage, insecure jobs and sky rocketing health care costs survival for the poorest Americans can only be managed on a day to day basis. Australian professor Philip Alston, a United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights traveled to America in 2017 to understand how bad poverty was in the richest country in the world. From NPR:
Alston says he met people working full time at chain stores who needed food stamps because they couldn’t survive on their wages.
And he was shocked by the type of poverty he witnessed: “I saw sewage-filled yards in states where governments don’t consider sanitation facilities to be their responsibility.” And “people who had lost all of their teeth” because dental care wasn’t covered by their health insurance plans. And homeless people who were told to move by a police officer who had “no answer when asked where they could move to.”
“People in the U.S. seem particularly unable to stomach the sight of homeless,” he says, “yet are unwilling to enact policies to help them.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 40 million people live in poverty — a shocking number that should shame the country into taking action. Donald Trump ran on a platform of economic populism in 2016, promising to help the poorest Americans and provide them with cheap, accessible health care. Instead, the president has gone to war on the Affordable Care Act that expanded affordable healthcare to millions of people, destabilizing the market place and raising premiums for millions of Americans, and is now going to war on Medicaid, the government program providing medical insurance for the poorest citizens. Reported Reuters:
The Trump administration said on Thursday it would allow states to test requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or participate in community activities such as volunteering or jobs training as a condition of eligibility for the government health insurance program for the poor.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance making it easier for states to design and propose test programs that implement such requirements. States must propose such changes through waivers and receive federal approval.
Seema Verma, the agency’s administrator, said the policy guidance came in response to requests from at least 10 states that have proposed requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or participate in activities that may include skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving. Those states include Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana and Utah….
“This gives us a pathway to start approving waivers,” Verma said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. “This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.”
This is not about helping those individuals “rise out of poverty” — it is about cutting costs and making the intolerable lives of the very poor even more intolerable. As Politico reported, those who will be worst affected by this decision are working-age adults living just above the poverty line who gained coverage since 2014 under Obamacare. Furthermore:
Independent studies have shown that most Medicaid enrollees who are eligible to work already do so. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 60 percent of non-elderly adults covered by Medicaid in 2016 were working part- or full-time. More than a third of those not working reported that illness or disability was the primary reason.
Now that the Trump administration has issued guidance, several sources expect that federal officials will quickly approve Kentucky’s proposed work requirement, which was initially submitted a year ago. That was toward the end of the Obama administration, which strongly opposed work rules in entitlement programs.
After the passing of the GOP tax cuts that go overwhelmingly to the super rich, one must now accept the reality of the Trump administration and its purpose. It exists solely to enrich the wealth and punish the poor. Nothing more.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.