Holding the Budget Hostage is a Threat to Public Health

There are less than 40 days remaining until a government shutdown, unless Congress passes a budget. Some Republicans are threatening to hold the budget hostage unless it includes riders that would hurt middle-class Americans while helping big corporation and CEOs.

Some of these cuts would affect Medicaid, Medicare, NIH, Planned Parenthood, and other crucial programs on which families depend. Americans deserve a clean budget, instead of attacks on consumers, workers, and families.

Even without the proposed cuts, we already face challenges with our health care system. Nearly thirty million Americans remain uninsured. Further cuts to these programs would put more Americans at risk for uninsurance at a time when tens of thousands of Americans still die each year because they lack access to quality health care.

In addition, the proposed cuts won’t do anything to help the Americans already struggling with medical bills. As of 2016, over half of uninsured Americans reported difficulty paying medical bills, while one out of five Americans with insurance also reported difficulties paying their bills. Those with difficulty paying medical bills cited the need to make hard choices, as they pitted the need for health care against the need for food, basic items, and preserving any semblance of savings.

We can’t risk the ill effects of cuts to these crucial programs. Right now Medicare, Medicaid, and other public insurance programs fund around two-thirds of U.S. health care costs. These programs are generally the most popular and efficient parts of our health care system.

Public programs have served as a crucial lifeline for generations of Americans. For example, when Medicare was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, it changed the lives of elderly Americans for the better. Along with Social Security and Medicaid, it fought off the destitution that so many elderly Americans faced at the time. Over 50 years later, Medicare remains more popular and effective than ever.

We must not turn our backs on these and other crucial programs. Now is the time to call your members of Congress and tell them to.