AT THE BEGINNING: Wilbur Mills and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. LBJ LIBRARY

Members of Arkansas Community Organization and others will rally at the Governor’s Mansion at 5:15 this afternoon to mark the 53rd anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. Some will join a bus trip for an Aug. 1 demonstration in Washington.

(PS: Any birthday of the medical programs for the elderly and the poor is worthy of a mention of the pivotal role played by U.S. Rep. Wilbur D. Mills (D-Kensett) as the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.)

Today’s demonstrators fear the recent massive federal tax cut will lead to cuts in the medical programs.  The House has already passed a budget that ACO says  would cut Medicare spending by billions, raise the eligibility age to 67, reduce coverage and turn Medicare into a voucher program. An ACO release continued:

In Arkansas the requirement that recipients of Arkansas Works report work activity on line will cause several thousand people to lose health coverage. Governor Hutchinson and the legislature have asked for a waiver to lower the eligibility threshold for Arkansas Works from 138% of the federal poverty line to 100%. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with other Republican Attorneys General in a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The Medicaid expansion, now known as Arkansas Works, is largely responsible for reducing Arkansas’s uninsured rate from 17.5% in 2010 to 7.9% in 2016. The ACA protects 1,177,500 Arkansans with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage or charged exorbitant premiums. Medicare and Medicaid provides coverage to over 1.4 million Arkansans.

Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, also issued a release on the 53rd anniversary.

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