This is despite the fact that some lawmakers, particularly Rep. John Yarmuth, have recognized that there is another way. “The federal government is not a family. And it's not a small company. And it's not a local government. And it's not a state government, ”he said last month. "We can spend whatever we need to serve the American people." He still has to convince his colleagues.
One of President Biden's promises over the next 10 years was $ 400 billion in home and community health care, the payment of living wages for caregivers, and the expansion of that care to allow the elderly or disabled to stay in their homes , and living alone outside of institutions. This funding could include direct care support or help with life skills, jobs and housing – the support people need to live as independently as possible. A proposal that not only creates well-paid jobs for caregivers, but also gives family caregivers more freedom and relieves them of responsibility. It would also keep many people away from long-term care facilities who end up in these facilities just because there is no alternative.
Now Democrats are talking about cutting this initiative in half, from $ 150 billion to $ 250 billion over a 10-year period. That, Matthew Cortland, Senior Fellow at Data for Progress and high-profile disability rights advocate, told HuffPost, "would be a harrowing betrayal of the disability community, which has suffered disproportionately devastating losses during this pandemic."
"There doesn't seem to be any understanding that this is a policy that … organization," HuffPost said. "The federal states need a clear signal that the federal government is committed to this," she said. "Otherwise politics won't work."
"Congress needs to raise all of $ 400 billion … and pay for it by reforming tax law so that billionaires and international corporations pay their fair share," Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, told HuffPost. "We clearly reject the idea that money for one health priority takes away from another. We are the richest country in history and we refuse to leave anyone behind."
At the same time, lawmakers are struggling to deliver on the promise of dental care to Medicare members, as detailed in this thread by New York Times health writer Margot Sanger-Katz. To cut costs over a ten-year period, the House Ways and Means Committee has adopted a strategy to postpone benefits for another seven years – politically risky given the great promise they made to all current seniors – and to urge seniors to to pay more. Also politically risky and not a good way to keep the promise made. Part of the problem, according to lawmakers, is the time it would take for the government to ramp up the program, identify dentists to participate, and revise benefit systems.
The Senate Democrats have an alternative idea: take a side of the incentive perks and send all eligible beneficiaries a direct payment, coupons that could be used as stopgaps for dental care until the whole system is in place.
House leadership wants to focus on the Affordable Care Act, expand the improved subsidies people have received as COVID-19 aid, and prioritize expanding Medicaid to the 12 opposing Republican states. These are also laudable goals.
The point is, we're the richest country in the goddamn world. We can afford all of these things. We don't have to treat politics – and the people whose lives they would change – as pawns to be acted upon.