Following a career-long pattern of voting for cuts in Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman is now calling for a reduction in “welfare” spending, a change in rhetoric that does not appear to reflect a shift in the Congressman’s thinking about the need to trim or eliminate Medicaid.
“We’d like to do some welfare reform in order to better control spending,” Coffman told KNUS’ Jimmy Sengenberger April 7. “There was such a explosion of welfare programs under under President Obama, under the prior administration. It’s about looking at all those programs and having a work requirement associated with them–either you are working or you’re involved in job training program.”
“When you look at the number of people that are sitting on the sidelines, that are receiving some form of public assistance, it’s a big number and particularly when it comes to able bodied people that ought to be in the workforce that are not,” he said on air.
Coffman’s office did not return an email seeking to know if he’s targeting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and/or other programs when he refers to the need for “welfare reform.”
Coffman’s repeated votes for the Ryan budget, as well as his multiple votes for Obamacare repeal in past House sessions, indicate that Medicaid is a specific target of his. These bills would have thrown hundreds of thousands of people off the Medicaid rolls in Colorado.
Coffman’s reference to “able-bodied people” as possibly undeserving of assistance reflects a common GOP attack on low-income people who’ve received expanded Medicaid insurance coverage under Obamacare.
But it’s not clear how many of the 400,000 people who are covered by Obamacare in Colorado could be classified as “able bodied,” because such statistics do not exist. And even if they did, there’s been no GOP proposal outlining the criteria for dumping a low income person, who qualifies for Obamacare by making less than $16,000 per year, from the Medicaid rolls. What about his or her mental state? Why are some poor people, facing hard times, deserving while others aren’t?
Critics also say Republicans who call for pushing “able bodied” people from Medicaid are demonizing poor people, in the same way Republicans once attacked “welfare queens.”
Coffman has made conflicting statements this year about whether Republicans have plans to cut the federal safety net, telling a recent town-hall gathering that “there is no plan to cut Medicare and Medicaid” (at 21 min 26 sec) after informing The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews in December there “will be welfare reform” by the Republicans.
Listen to Coffman April 7 discuss “welfare reform” on KNUS 710-AM: