Newswire: Republicans are planning an assault on programs for the poor

Written By Nigel Roberts, Newsone

House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to cut holes in the social safety net during the 2018 legislative session, taking aim at programs poor people depend on to survive, Fox News reported.
“We’re going to get back at reforming these entitlements. And we’re going to take on welfare reform, which is another big entitlement program, where we’re basically paying people, able-bodied people, not to work and depriving them with all these disincentives from going to the workforce,” he said.
Fresh off passing tax reform legislation in December, the GOP wants to roll that momentum in 2018. The tax overhaul, which mainly benefits corporations and wealthy individuals, adds $1.4 trillion to the deficit. Now, the Republicans are looking for ways slash the debt they created. The solution to them is axing government health care programs and social services spending. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking,” Ryan said on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show.

Here’s what to expect:
1. Medicare
Yes, Medicare is on the table, even though the GOP has long feared a backlash from seniors. Ryan has been talking with President Donald Trump about the need to cut the program. “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare,” the House Speaker said.
their totally unnecessary $1.5 trillion tax cut for the rich the GOP will spend the next ten years saying we must cut Medicare, Medicaid, & Social Security because the deficit is too damn high. Never let the American people forget their tax cuts caused that deficit.

2. Medicaid
In addition to funding cuts, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency within the Department of Health, has already signaled that changes are coming to the health care program for poor people. The agency, in a departure from President Barack Obama’s approach, is recommending that states establish a work requirement for certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

3. Food stamps
Reigning in the food stamp program is a perennial goal for Republicans. They see an opportunity through the pretext of reducing the budget deficit explosion they created. On top of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the GOP plans to give states more flexibility in how they administer the program. As with Medicaid, they also want to add a work requirement for receiving food stamps and direct cash assistance to the poor.

 

Newswire : NAACP strongly opposes unfair trillion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthy

by: Special to the AFRO

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BALTIMORE—The NAACP unequivocally stands in opposition to the recent Senate Tax Plan that passed in the early hours of Saturday, and the conference committee report, which Congress is voting on now. This tax legislation recklessly reclassifies our tax system to the benefit of the nation’s wealthiest and to the detriment of hardworking low and middle income communities, women and children.
“This tax plan promotes the old fable of trickle-down economics where politicians promote the myth that over a trillion dollars in deficit-generating tax giveaways will somehow pay for themselves because the wealthy will invest that money in the economy,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO. “In reality, we know from previous experience that their unfair financial windfall will never trickle down to the average American.
“What will trickle down to our communities, especially young children and families, senior citizens, disabled Americans, students and low and middle-income working families, are cuts to the programs that average Americans need to survive, including Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), housing assistance, public education, Social Security, and Medicare.
“In addition to a permanent tax giveaway for corporations, one of the most sickening parts of this huge tax plan is that it will remove the safety net of health insurance from nearly 13 million individuals and a disproportionate number of low-income communities of color.
“This proposal contradicts the core American values of shared responsibility and compassion through its attempt to make inequality permanent. It handcuffs local and state government’s ability to cover education and other critical services by repealing the federal deduction for state and local income and sales taxes and capping the deduction for state property taxes.
“The Senate proposal also leaves out children in hard working families earning low wages from an expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). While the Senate plan expands the credit to higher-income households – including those earning up to $500,000 a year – millions of children would receive little or no benefit. Moreover, the Senate plan excludes a million immigrant children who currently qualify for the CTC.
“While the tax code should be used as a mechanism to promote equity and the fair sharing of our nation’s services and commitments, it has instead been co-opted in a partisan way that takes even more from those who have less to make life even more favored for the 1 percent.
“The NAACP is deeply concerned about the injustice of a tax reform that will provide 83% of its benefits to the top 1% of the people in the nation based on income,” said Johnson.

 

New report shows Medicaid expansion in Alabama can improve behavioral health care access

In Alabama 85,000 uninsured people with a mental illness or substance use disorder had incomes that could qualify them for expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2014.
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report showing that Alabama can greatly improve access to behavioral health services for its residents by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Substance use disorders and mental illness are prevalent and serious public health problems in American communities.
In Alabama, 85,000 uninsured people with a mental illness or substance use disorder had incomes that could qualify them for expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.  The report also finds that people with behavioral health needs made up a substantial share of all low-income uninsured individuals: in Alabama, about 30.3 percent. While some of these individuals had access to some source of health insurance in 2014, many will only gain access to coverage if Alabama expands Medicaid, and others would gain access to more affordable coverage.
“Today’s report shows that Medicaid expansion is an important step Alabama can take to address behavioral health needs, including serious mental illness and opioid and other substance use disorders,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.
Today’s report highlights that, along with its other benefits, Medicaid expansion would dramatically improve access to treatment for people with mental and substance use disorders, thereby improving health outcomes. Research shows that low-income adults with serious mental illness are significantly more likely to receive treatment if they have access to Medicaid coverage, with benefits for their health. The report estimates that if Alabama expanded Medicaid, 16,000 fewer individuals would experience symptoms of depression and 24,000 additional individuals would report being in good or excellent health.
To date, 30 states plus DC have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. However, 20 states—including many of the states that would benefit most—have not yet seized this opportunity. Previous studies have found that if these states do not change course, over 4 million of their citizens will be deprived of health insurance coverage in 2016.
States that choose to expand Medicaid may achieve significant improvement in their behavioral health programs without incurring new costs. State funds that currently directly support behavioral health care treatment for people who are uninsured but would gain coverage under expansion may become available for other behavioral health investments.  For example, several states that expanded Medicaid reported that they expected reductions in general funds needing to be allocated to the uninsured for treatment ranging from $7 million to $190 million in 2015. This creates opportunities to meet other pressing health, mental health and substance use disorder needs. States can also expect to have a more productive workforce, because expanding treatment will permit a reduction in adverse workforce outcomes stemming from mental and substance use disorders. Research shows that depressed employees incur significantly more disability days than do otherwise similar employees, and substance use disorder treatment was associated with $5,366 annually in employer savings from reduced absenteeism alone.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, states have the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to individuals with family incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Health care costs for people made newly eligible through the Medicaid expansion are paid for with 100 percent federal funds in 2016, and 95 percent in 2017, scaling down to 90 percent in calendar years 2020 and beyond. President Obama recently proposed an extra incentive for states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs, which would provide any state that takes up Medicaid expansion the same three years of full Federal support and gradual phase down that those states that expanded in 2014 received.