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They must be cruel rather than be kind

One of the things I like about Paul Krugman is that he totally steers away from blaming our current state of affairs on Trumpism, and puts the blame squarely where it belongs: the Republican Party. This morning’s column, in which he castigates Republicans for their predilection for inflicting pain on the poor is a good example. In this case, he points out that the Republican drive against health care is truly more about inflicting pain than saving money. Along the way, he states:

Second, there’s the issue of work requirements for Medicaid. Some states have been petitioning for years for the right to force Medicaid recipients to take jobs, and this week the Trump administration declared that it would allow them to do so. But what was driving this demand?

The reality is that a vast majority of adult Medicaid recipients are in families where at least one adult is working. And a vast majority of those who aren’t working have very good reasons for not being in the labor force: They’re disabled, they’re caregivers to other family members or they’re students. The population of Medicaid recipients who “ought” to be working but aren’t is very small, and the money that states could save by denying them coverage is trivial.

The policy in question supposedly requires the able bodied to work, and grants benefits to the disabled. Something Krugman didn’t mention is the fact that the states in question get to define what is able bodied, and I can tell you, based on over 20 years of representing disabled people (or is it 30, we geezers have bad memories) that lots of people who you, I, or any right minded person might consider disabled will be deemed able bodied. After all, if the point is to be cruel, as Krugman rightly alleges, why stop at denying benefits to the undoubtedly able bodied when you can declare anyone you like to be able bodied and deny a whole slew of people.

I won’t bore you with war stories, but I can tell you that right now, even in the federal disability system, cruelty reigns. I should add that one relative bright spot is the state run SAGA system. I can’t begin to count the number of people deemed disabled by the folks running that system that were deemed able bodied by the sadistic administrative law judges holding court in Connecticut nowadays. There’s no reason to think the states clamoring for work requirements will do anything but deny benefits to disabled people in huge numbers.

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