By Dr. Mary T. Bassett and Stanley Brezenoff
This op-ed was originally published in the New York Daily News.
If there was any hope that Senate Republicans could bring some sanity into the national discussion around the future of our health care system, such hope completely vanished on Thursday. Like the House's health care bill, the Senate's proposal is nothing less than an all-out attack on public health and our public hospital system, and its consequences will be devastating for New York City and the country.
As the Senate prepares to vote on the bill next week, it's imperative to understand what is at stake if the federal government guts funding for public health insurance — as it is poised to do.
The Senate is proposing to save money by slashing Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor established in 1965. Under its bill, cuts to Medicaid would be even harsher than those proposed by the House — which axes $880 billion to Medicaid over 10 years. Even worse, these efforts would push millions of Americans to the uninsured rolls.
Adding to this concern is the President's budget, which targets Medicaid with a proposed cut of $610 billion. His budget would also cut $5.8 billion from the Children's Health Insurance Program over two years.
Taken together, these policy proposals threaten a death blow to public hospital systems across the country, including our NYC Health + Hospitals. More profoundly, both the House and the Senate's bills would destroy a national commitment made 52 years ago to provide health care to the elderly and low-income Americans.