In roughly two months, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become president of the United States. No one can tell for certain what he might do. During the campaign, he failed to spell out in detail his proposals for anything. So now we wait to see what the new administration will bring.
President-elect Trump has said that he does not plan to alter Social Security. We will have to hope that he meant that. There are troubling signs, however, that his administration will enact programs that will undercut Social Security. This could be very bad for the disabled. Consider a few scenarios.
No More Obama Care?
Trump says he wants to repeal Obama Care. This seems like a real priority for him. If he manages to do so, it could leave tens of millions of people without healthcare insurance. It would not just be the poor, either, who could get shut out. If healthcare insurers can go back to writing policies for only healthy people (and canceling policies for those who get sick after signing up for insurance), even people who could afford to buy insurance may discover no company will sell it to them. For the disabled, in particular, this could mean disaster. So many of the disabled rely on expensive medications just to control their disabling conditions. If they lose healthcare coverage, many of them could die.
Medicaid Proposals Could Mean Big Changes
Trump also appears to want significant change for Medicaid. This is the program that pays for health insurance for the poor. Right now, the Federal government attaches many conditions to the dollars they send to the state for Medicaid. Trump seems to like the idea of removing those restrictions. This would allow the states to take federal Medicaid dollars and add whatever restrictions they like. Among the ideas floating around: co-pays and a requirement to work. I have had many clients skip medical appointments and not fill prescriptions because they could not come up with even a token co-payment.
How are the disabled supposed to meet a work requirement? This sets up as the classic Catch 22: you have to work until we say you can't, but until we do, you can't get medical insurance to prove you can't.
Expect Even More Delays
I think we can safely say that Trump will not provide additional funding for Social Security. This comes at a time when Social Security is so overburdened that it seems like the whole enterprise could grind to a halt. People applying to get disability benefits could be looking at waiting 3-4 years just to get an answer.
Hope For The Best?
We live in a democracy. The people spoke and chose Donald J. Trump to take control of the federal government. All we can do now is hope that he does not damage such programs as Social Security. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is a life or death matter.
Don't Give Up
While this plays out, keep in mind that your voice still still counts. Read the news and follow what is happening. If Trump does something you do not agree with, let your members of Congress know. At present, this is the only tool we have left to fight with.
Let's hope it is enough.