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View Diary: The case for taking Medicaid off the fiscal cliff negotiating table (15 comments)

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    This is all true. But the response needs to be not, "We need to save Medicaid, too," but, "We need to increase income for the poor."

    There are two reasons we have Medicaid. The fundamental reasons we have it are (1) because workers are underpaid and (2) because we have a for-profit healthcare system. Those two bad ideas come together to create the need for Medicaid.

    And the need won't go away just because Washington cuts funding. The need will be there because we underpay workers and because we pay too much for healthcare. We are paying workers a minimum wage of $7.25/hour when the living wage is generally higher throughout the U.S. and in many cases significantly higher. (As I quoted before, it's around $24/hour in New York. It's also around $28/hour in San Francisco. Let that sink in a minute.) And, we are paying over 17% of GDP for our healthcare system, while sensible countries pay about 10-12%.

    So, we need to tell these people that the trade off isn't higher tax rates for rich people. The trade off for cutting Medicaid needs to be a raise in the minimum wage and a long extension of unemployment benefits. I'm talking about an extension beyond 99 weeks.

    That's what will send the right message to these people. Whine, whine, whine about how much these programs cost. Whine, whine, whine. Well, okay. You want fewer people on these programs? You want to cut the costs.

    Then pay the f***ing people what they're worth!

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