March 8, 2017

Trump-Endorsed Health Plan Would Increase Hunger

Photo by Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World

Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World warned that the new Republican health plan would increase hunger and food insecurity in the United States. President Trump has endorsed the plan, and it is moving toward a vote in the House of Representatives.    

“The health plan that President Trump has endorsed would take hundreds of billions of dollars away from low-income Americans,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “It would certainly increase hunger among American children.”

The proposed American Health Care Act would cap funding for Medicaid, so families in poverty would receive less help with the costs of health care. It would also phase out the expansion of Medicaid that was part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This would take insurance away from 11 million people just above the poverty line.

In addition, the proposed health care replacement bill would reduce subsidies that have made it possible for millions of middle-class families to purchase health insurance.    

“If working families do not have health insurance, they often have to scrimp on food for their children if someone in the family gets really sick,” said Beckmann. “Maintaining the health insurance coverage that the Affordable Care Act has achieved would help to maintain recent gains against hunger and poverty.” 

The expansion of health care coverage under the ACA has contributed to declines in U.S. hunger and poverty over the last few years. Before the ACA, 1 in 3 people with chronic medical conditions had to choose between receiving medical treatment and purchasing food for their family.

According to an updated analysis released by Harvard University economist David Cutler and his co-authors, people with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty line would see their costs increase by $2,945 this year. By 2020, their health care costs would increase by $4,061.

Widespread hunger is a significant cause of disease and high health care costs. Bread for the World’s 2016 hunger report, The Nourishing Effect, estimates the cost of hunger and food insecurity to our healthcare system at $160 billion per year.

“Hunger and poverty make people sick, and a powerful way to address rising health care costs in our country would be to reduce hunger,” added Beckmann.      

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