Paul Ryan vs. the disabled
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While the Republicans are hailing Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as the next vice president of the United States, that prospect is a frightening one for millions of Americans with disabilities.
As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Mr. Ryan proposed turning Medicaid into a block-grant program. That idea is now part of the Republican platform. And it is a direct threat to low-income people with disabilities.
Right now, the 8 million Americans with disabilities who rely on Medicaid are entitled to certain crucial services. Under block grants, they would be entitled to nothing. State governments would be free to spend Medicaid money as they saw fit.
Since state Medicaid budgets are tight and about 40 percent of Medicaid funds are spent serving people with disabilities, states would feel intense pressure to eliminate or restrict access for the disabled. Block-granting would give states new authority to do just that.
Mr. Ryan's plan also would reduce federal spending on Medicaid by $810 billion over 10 years. That would apply even more pressure for states to make deep cuts.
It seems Mr. Ryan wants to take money from the poorest Americans and give it to the richest Americans. His budget also calls for lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
Even though Mr. Ryan's budget passed the House, it didn't stand a chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate or surviving a veto by President Barack Obama. Fortunately. But if Mitt Romney and Mr. Ryan win the White House, and if the Republicans capture the Senate, Mr. Ryan's heartless plan for Medicaid could become reality. That's why so many of us are so worried today.
First Published September 4, 2012 12:00 am