CNY residents urge Tenney to protect Medicaid, Medicare over millionaires in upcoming federal budget

As Congressional Recess Nears Finish, National Week of Action Calls on Congress to Reject Budget Cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to Pay for Massive Tax Cuts for Wealthiest Americans

As members of Congress prepare to return to Washington, D.C., next week, Central New Yorkers hosted events this week urging lawmakers to reject efforts to use the FY2018 federal budget to strip health care from millions of Americans. Representatives of Citizen Action of New York, Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., Central New York Labor Council, 1199SEIU, Democratic Action Network, Cornhill Community for  Change, and Indivisible Mohawk Valley gathered at the Central New York Labor Council for a news conference that called on Representative Claudia Tenney (R-CD 22) to oppose any budget that guts life-saving Medicaid for 74 million working families, privatizes Medicaid for seniors or strips state budgets of critical funding in order to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.

The news conference featured a national expert on Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security – Eric Kingson.  A professor of social work at Syracuse University and faculty affiliate of the university’s Aging Studies Institute, he is the founding co-director of Social Security Works and founding co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. He was also a candidate for Congress in the Democrat Primary for New York’s 24th Congressional District.

Mr. Kingson said:  “Representative Claudia Tenney wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, taking a “meat cleaver” to Medicaid and privatizing Medicare. This would undercut the well-being of the 710,000 Central New Yorkers she represents — including 87,000 children under age 18 covered by Medicaid/CHIP, 89,000 adults covered by Medicaid/CHIP, 159,000 adults who have earned Medicare protections and tens of thousands of middle-aged and older workers. This includes friends, families and neighbors trying to face down (and pay for) devastating illnesses, persons nearing retirement ages who lack health insurance, and persons with disabilities and seniors who need home care or nursing home care their families can no longer afford. This is what is at stake. This is why, all our congressional representatives, including Claudia Tenney (NY-22), should start working together to build up, not tear down, our health care protections.”

“Republicans in Congress seem determined to cut vital programs that help the elderly, working families, children and people with disabilities get the care they need – regardless of who it hurts,” said John Furman, President of the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. “What’s even more egregious is they are using the same procedural gymnastics to ram through these cuts that they used to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and they are doing all of this to give huge tax cuts to corporations and the very wealthy. It’s disgraceful.”

The event is a part of a nationwide week of action led by Health Care for America Now to educate communities about the Republican budget that cuts nearly $2 trillion from health care, especially Medicaid, while at the same time giving massive tax breaks to the rich and corporations.

When members of Congress return to Washington, D.C., Republicans will try to pass the House budget resolution, which includes even deeper permanent cuts to Medicaid than appeared in the failed repeal bills and nearly $500 billion in new cuts to Medicare, a vital program for seniors. At the same time, the budget contains instructions for billions in new tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. To make matters even worse, rather than regular-order process, Congressional Republicans are trying to use the same fast-track “reconciliation” strategy to jam through the budget that they used to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the recess.

Rep. Tenney voted in support of recent bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dismantle Medicaid earlier this summer despite pressure from constituents to protect healthcare and work instead toward expanding and improving access.

“Here we go again,” continued Mr. Furman. “This Republican budget is a bad-rerun of the Republicans’ thinly-veiled effort to take health care away from millions of Americans in order to pay for tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Americans from red states and blue states alike made their voices heard during the repeal fight, and we’ll make sure the Representative Tenney hears us this time around too. We expect our representatives to reject any budget that makes cuts or changes to Medicaid or Medicare.”

These cuts would fundamentally transform Medicaid for the worse, ending its guarantee of coverage for children, seniors, and people with disabilities by taking coverage from up to 5,818,300 New Yorkers and crippling New York’s budget. The Republican bill’s radical changes in Medicaid funding will cripple states faced with health emergencies like the opioid crisis. It will be up to each state alone to manage health care emergencies without additional support from the federal government.  Of the 5,818,300 New Yorkers who get quality health coverage through Medicaid, 2,150,400 are children, 644,400 are seniors, and 713,600 are people with disabilities.

Medicaid provides coverage to one in five Americans, including 30 million children. It pays for half the births in the United States, 75% of all family planning services, 64% of nursing home care, and 30% of all care for people with disabilities. Nearly 2 million veterans get health care through Medicaid. Medicaid also costs far less per beneficiary than private health insurance, and its costs have been rising more slowly than private insurance.

Medicare is a pillar of the American healthcare system, serving over 55 million people ages 65 and over and people with permanent disabilities, including 3,343,349 New Yorkers. But the new Medicare cuts of $487 billion over 10 years and efforts to privatize Medicare through vouchers would devastate this program and leave seniors and people with permanent disabilities without an affordable option for care.

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