Every once in a while, something extraordinary happens in Washington, D.C.: Lawmakers actually pay attention to what Americans really want, and then stand up for policies that reflect what most Americans want. It looks like that’s what happening with Medicaid and the Republican proposal that would eviscerate a program that’s vital to millions of low-income, middle- and working-class Americans.
Democrats Stand Up For Medicaid
In the furor over the GOP’s proposal to end Medicare as we know it, it seemed Democrats were quiet about the even deeper cuts for Medicaid. No more. Forty-one Senate Democrats are urging President Obama to reject the Republican’s cuts to Medicaid.
Forty-one Senate Democrats are urging President Barack Obama to reject GOP proposals to dramatically change Medicaid, marking the party’s strongest defense yet of the federal-state health care program.
The clear message: Medicaid block grants or other caps on federal Medicaid spending cannot get through the Senate.
But on Thursday morning, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), one of Medicaid’s strongest defenders in the Senate, announced that 41 Democrats — in separate letters — are taking a stand against Medicaid cuts.
In the main letter, Rockefeller and 36 other senators say they oppose block granting Medicaid and enacting other spending caps — and urge the White House not to make Medicaid the “sacrificial lamb.” Four other Democratic senators sent similar letters to the White House, Rockefeller’s office said.
The 36 Senators who signed the Rockefeller letter plus the four separate letters by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Mark Udall (Col.), Michael Bennet (Col.), and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), shows that Senate Democrats have the votes to block the GOP’s Medicaid overhaul by ensuring it won’t have the votes to get out of filibuster.
Standing with the American Majority on Medicaid
By standing up to the GOP’s attempt to gut Medicaid, Senate Democrats are standing with the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose drastic cuts to Medicaid. I’m not necessarily claiming credit, but Democrats clearly get one of the points I made in my earlier post about what Republicans want to do to Medicaid.
The Republican cuts to Medicaid are just as unpopular as the Republican cuts to Medicare. Democrats compromise with Republicans on Medicaid cuts at their peril.
As encouraging the Senate news is, it just shows that Democrats have been paying attention, because Americans — when anyone’s bothered to ask them — have made it clear where they stand on Medicaid.
Americans know the difference, because Medicaid is imporant to the majority of Americans.
Fifty-nine percent of the American people said Medicaid was either “very important” to them or their families (39%) or “somewhat important” (20%).
That’s because most Americans have been helped by Medicaid or know someone who has. Half of Americans have personal ties to Medicaid. One in five Americans personally have received Medicaid benefits. About 60% of Americans have a friend or family member who’s been on Medicaid.
So, it’s not hard to figure out why 60% of Americans reject the Republican plan to block grant Medicaid, and want to keep Medicaid the way it is. They know it’s not “just a program for poor people”.
All of this is probably because the more Americans hear about the Republican Budget proposal, the more the realize what it would mean for them, their families, and communities. But That’s for another post.
Senate Democrats seem to “get” that the GOP cuts to Medicaid will have a devastating impact on their constituents, and eventually hurt them at the polls the way it’s promising to hurt the GOP.
Democrats are winning the battle over Medicare, and it looks like they’ve figured out how to win the coming battle over Medicaid: by standing with the majority of Americans, and stopping the Republican plan to gut Medicaid.