Public health advocates in Georgia warn that Trumpcare’s severe cuts to Medicaid will put thousands of children in rural counties at risk.
In its current form, the healthcare bill being debated by the Senate would keep the $700 billion in cuts to state Medicaid funding — which is meant to provide health coverage to low-income families and children — despite undergoing revisions by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and other Senate Republicans in an effort to win over 51 votes. The process is being conducted through budget reconciliation, meaning the normal 60-vote hurdle for bills to pass the senate can be bypassed as the bill is only affecting current budgets.
However, in Georgia — which chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton last year by a 50-45 margin — those cuts would translate to $1.9 billion in lost federal funding for Medicaid services if Trumpcare is passed and signed into law. The Dalton Daily Citizen reports that roughly 1.3 million children in Georgia depend on Medicaid, many of whom live in rural communities like Whitfield County, Georgia, where 75 percent of voters cast their ballots for Trump.
The Daily Citizen also reported that because Georgia was one of the states that opted to not expand Medicaid to more middle-class families following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), 66 percent of the state’s Medicaid patients are 19 years old or younger. Polly McKinney, who is the advocacy director for Voices for Georgia’s Children, told the Daily Citizen the current proposal would jeopardize the futures of thousands of children.
“[Children] need those services to grow into healthy, productive adults, and if you’re missing one service – like if a kid doesn’t get hearing aids or dental services – that kid’s chances for success diminish rapidly,” McKinney said. “We can’t afford to have the number of children without health insurance as it is and we certainly can’t afford to have more kids without health insurance, nor can we afford to short them on benefits.”
In addition to groups like McKinney’s, other more established groups like the Georgia Hospital Association are also urging David Perdue and Johnny Isakson — Georgia’s U.S. Senate delegation — to keep Medicaid funding intact.
“Further cuts to this important program could greatly threaten access to care for our state’s most vulnerable population,” Georgia Hospital Association president Earl Rogers told the Daily Citizen.
Currently, Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have come out firmly against the Senate healthcare bill. Senators Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) remain on the fence, saying they need more time to review the legislation. Assuming all Democrats remain opposed to the bill, the bill will fail in the Senate if either Heller or Portman vote no.
Matthew P. Robbins is an economics reporter for Grit Post covering wages, budgets, and taxes. He lives in Chicago, Illinois with his husband and two cats.