During aÂ Fox & FriendsÂ interview Monday morning, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested that, for the people who lose Medicaid coverage because of theÂ more than $800 billion in cutsÂ included in the Senateâ€™s health care bill, the solution is as simple as finding a better job.
â€śMedicaid is intended for the poor, the needy, and the sick,â€ť she said. â€śAnd what it has done is, under Obamacare, it has expanded the Medicaid pool of people who, quote, qualified beyond that. So if you have an able-bodied American who again is not poor, sick, needy?â€”?weâ€™re not talking about the elderly who benefit, the children, the pregnant women, the disabled?â€”?if youâ€™re able-bodied and you would like to go find employment and have employer-sponsored benefits, then you should be able to do that, and maybe you belong, as Secretary Price has made clear, in other places.â€ť
But Conwayâ€™s talking point mischaracterizes the life circumstances of most Medicaid recipients, a majority of whom work low-income jobs that donâ€™t offer health insurance and that keep them near the poverty line.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 59 percent of Medicaid adults have jobs, and nearly 80 percent are part of working families. While many of those people might prefer to take advantage of employer-offered health care, a large percentage do not have that option. Only 46 percent of employers offer health care coverage, according to theÂ latest KFF data.
Conway also ignored the fact that the Senate health care bill only requires insurance companies to pay for 58 percent of costs, a significant reduction from the standard under Obamacare. That means that low-income people kicked off Medicaid as a result of the Senate billâ€™s $800 billion in cuts would be required toÂ pay much more out of pocketÂ for their health care even if they can purchase private insurance.
Itâ€™s also not true that the Medicaid cuts included in the Senate health care bill wouldnâ€™t have a negative impact on elderly people, children, pregnant women, or disabled people, as Conway suggested. By imposing per capita caps on benefits and eventually basing the amount of money states receive each year for Medicaid on the consumer price index (instead of inflation within the health care market, for instance), the Senate billâ€™s cutsÂ will negatively impact all beneficiariesÂ of the program, including the 35 percent who cite an illness or disability that prevents them from working.
Conwayâ€™s comments onÂ Fox & FriendsÂ come the day after she appeared onÂ This WeekÂ andÂ flatly deniedÂ that the Senate billâ€™s $800 billion reduction in Medicaid spending constitutes a â€ścut.â€ť Instead, she said the bill â€śslows the rate for the future, and it allows governors more flexibility with Medicaid dollars.â€ť
The administrationâ€™s misinformation is having an impact?â€”?a recent poll indicatedÂ less than 40 percent of Americans knowÂ that the health care plan being pushed by Republicans includes any Medicaid cuts.
This piece was originally published at ThinkProgress on June 26, 2017. Reprinted with permission.Â
About the Author:Â Aaron Rupar is an editor at Think Progress. He came to DC from Minneapolis, where he wrote for the City Pages and Fox 9, among other outlets.