Cut the Budget by Trimming Healthcare for Poor People

If you follow my blog, you know I've been pointing out how Republicans are falsely blaming Colorado budget problems on healthcare costs for the elderly, disabled, and other poor people.

What's worse, after scapegoating Medicaid spending on healthcare for the poor, Republicans haven't said how they'd cut it. Or do something else to ease the budget pressure. And reporters are letting them slide.

But one state Republican recently said she's ready to cut Medicaid. That's State Sen. Laura Woods of Westminster.

During a radio interview in January, Woods said Medicaid used to be "for the truly needy," but it's not anymore. So she wants families to be poorer to qualify for Medicaid. Currently, a family of four qualifies if it earns less than around $34,000 per year--or 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Woods agreed with KNUS 710-AM radio hosts, who suggested reducing the earnings threshold for qualifying for Medicaid.

Host Chuck Bonniwell: Well, you can change the 137 percent back to 100 percent [of the federal poverty level], I suppose.

Co-Host Julie Hayden: Right. I mean, it can't stay the way it is, right?

WOODS: Right.

Woods told Bonniwell that "this rolling back [the] 137 percent is exactly the kind of compromise and agreement that we would push to the government, and say, 'You know what? You want compromise, let's talk.'"

But Woods said a healthcare cut must be done with "a lot of forethought" because "you're sort of taking away their birthday. You're taking away Santa Claus."

It's a "very difficult thing to do," said Woods. It's unclear whether Woods, who doesn't return my calls, was thinking it would be tough politically to cut Medicaid or humanity-wise. The Christmas line, popular among conservatives discussing government excess, usually signals their belief that the poor are exploiting safety-net programs.

The reference to Christmas and birthdays makes it sound as if Woods thinks when poor people save money on heathcare, they turn around and spend it on nonessentials. GOP Sen. Greg Brophy, who alleged that Medicaid recipients spend their money on air conditioning, cigarettes, and Lotto, made the same allegation, which is not supportable, as far as I can tell, not to mention gross. (Or does everything come back to the War on Christmas?)

In any case, Woods incorrectly stated on air that the imperative to chop Medicaid is clear, since it is "this driver of our state budget pushing our budget over a cliff, and it's simply not sustainable."

During her radio interview, Woods mistakenly said a family of four "making between $70,000 and $90,000 a year qualify for Medicaid." As you can see here, she is wrong. She may have been thinking of the threshold for a family of four to receive health-insurance tax credits under Obamacare. (Plus, Medicaid expansion under Obamacare has been paid by the feds, and many of the people covered by Obamacare in Colorado are adults without children.)

So next time Republicans are bashing Medicaid, but they aren't saying what part of Medicaid they want to cut, reporters can turn to Woods. Hopefully, she'll have her facts that allegedly support her opinion straightened out by then.