I think it is very important in this difficult political time for us health and health services advocates to act like winners who have the vast majority of the American people on our side regarding Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and even the Affordable Care Act. Polls show only about 20% want to fully repeal the ACA rather than fixing and improving it. We need to pursue our advocacy with the understanding that what the conservatives in Congress are trying to do is against the wishes of the American people including many of the working class people who voted for Donald Trump. The plans to privatize Medicare and block grant Medicaid come from those who want to put corporate control over these programs and reduce government spending on them.
It is a good sign that it has taken just a few weeks for activists to mobilize and make plans to defend Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. While national leaders Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders are mounting public efforts like this Sunday’s day of local events, advocates are conducting a National Bus Tour to Protect Health Care next week that will include stops in New York City, Albany and Binghamton. The Albany event will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, January 20 behind the State Capitol.
Bernie Sanders has been leading the Senate Democrats outreach effort to plan days of action on Sunday, January 15 in local areas across the country. Sanders is also trying to hold Donald Trump to his campaign promise not to cut Medicare and Social Security. Sanders is planning to introduce an amendment to protect the programs today in the budget debate in Washington.
Meanwhile it seems that Trump and Congressional Republicans are heading for a conflict after Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus said last week that Trump does not intend to “meddle” with Medicare and Social Security. Republicans in the House though are eager to move ahead and cut the programs despite the fact that they are having trouble just focusing on the repeal and replacement part of the Affordable Care Act.
That will also cause some problems for Medicare since the ACA included many positive changes for Medicare and if it is repealed with no replacement, those benefits will be eliminated. One key benefit in the ACA for Medicare was drug coverage in the “donut hole” or coverage gap that is slated to be fully covered by 2020 and the donut hole eliminated.
The attempt by right wing conservatives to turn the country’s economy over to the wealthy and corporations has always been their “overreach” and resulted in their loss of power. I have no doubt if they keep it up that it will happen again because organized, united generations of activist young people, working people and seniors are more informed and more able to exert their power than ever before.