Hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders rely on federal programs for health care

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Jim Langevin met with more than two dozen seniors at the DaVinci Center in Providence today where they called on Congress to defend Medicare and Medicaid from the drastic budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump earlier this month.

“We will do everything in our power to protect Medicaid and Medicare, which are the bedrock of America’s middle class,” said Whitehouse. “Every Rhode Islander deserves to know these important programs will be there to allow them to retire with dignity. And yet, President Trump’s budget uses the massive deficit Republicans created by needlessly giving billionaires tax breaks to set the stage for gutting the health care programs that seniors rely on.”

President Trump’s 2019 budget proposal includes nearly $500 billion in cuts over ten years to Medicare, which provides health care services to about one in five Rhode Islanders. The Trump Administration’s proposal would also slash Medicaid by $1.4 trillion over the next decade, with Rhode Island estimated to lose $5 billion. Almost a third of all Rhode Islanders are enrolled in Medicaid, which supports about 60 percent of nursing home residents.

“The President’s budget proposal slashes funding for programs that are a lifeline for seniors,” said Langevin. “Medicare and Medicaid provide health care for thousands of Rhode Islanders, and the cuts to these and other programs proposed by the President will leave seniors, children, and people with disabilities without access to essential services and supports. Senator Whitehouse has been a national leader fighting for the programs our most vulnerable populations rely on, and I will continue to join him in that fight.”

As a candidate, President Trump pledged not to cut Medicaid and Medicare. The cuts to social services were proposed by President Trump on the heels of a Republican-championed tax law that gave enormously outsized benefits to wealthy taxpayers. The new tax law is expected to balloon the federal deficit by more than one trillion dollars over the next ten years. While the deficit-exploding tax law was being considered by Congress in December, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan told a radio show host, “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”