The Post’s Damien Paletta reported over the weekend that President Trump’s proposed budget would cut the better part of a trillion dollars from Medicaid spending between now and 2027.
For Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health care to low-income Americans, Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.
But that proposal would directly conflict with one of President Trump’s core promises on the campaign trail. In 2015 and 2016, Trump repeatedly promised to “save” social welfare programs, insisting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits would be preserved under his administration.
“Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, without cuts — have to do it,” Trump promised on the very first day of his campaign, minutes after riding the golden Trump Tower escalator into the building’s lobby and formally announcing his candidacy. “Get rid of the fraud, get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it. People have been paying in for years, and now many of these candidates want to cut it. You save it by making the United States — by making us rich again.”
It’s hard to see how cutting $800 billion from a program that helps poor Americans get health care can be described as “saving” Medicaid. And the proposed cuts put Trump in risky political territory — not just because of his campaign promises, but because of Medicaid’s overwhelming popularity among voters.
A Quinnipiac poll in March found 74 percent of voters oppose decreased funding for Medicaid, while just 22 percent of voters support decreased funding.
Another poll showed strong support for keeping the Medicaid funding structure in place as it is now, rather than giving more states flexibility to come up with their own rules. In a Politico/Harvard public health poll in March, a majority of Americans said they’d prefer to keep the program as it is now, as opposed to giving states more flexibility but less federal money.
And while House Republicans have already passed a bill that would provide for the same cuts, and even some Senate Republicans are pushing for the kinds of changes that would drop millions of adults from Medicaid, it’s not clear they have enough support in the Senate to get what they want.
Trump might be proposing massive cuts to Medicaid, arguing that it’s necessary to rein in entitlement spending and reduce the deficit. But when budget proposals get to Congress, public approval matters — and in this case, cutting Medicaid could give Republicans a big headache.
Scott Clement contributed to this story.