Editorial: Skimping on social services
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There's a move in Congress to make new cuts and add stricter work requirements to the program that puts food on the table for over 40 million low-income Americans.President Donald Trump included a similar proposal in his proposed 2019 budget, which seeks to cut $230 billion over the next 10 years from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Meanwhile, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson wants to raise rents on poor people in public housing. As Modern Healthcare public health reporter Steven Ross Johnson wrote earlier this month, healthcare systems across the country are working with local charities to provide food and housing for their patients. They recognize that hunger, lack of access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and homelessness are undermining the health of millions of Americans and make it more difficult to treat their diseases. But there are limits to what they can achieve on their own. The sad fact is charity can never make up for the cuts contained in the proposals coming out of Washington, D.C., or for the nation's long-standing neglect of basic social services. The nation needs a far more robust federal nutrition program, just as it needs more robust housing, job training, early childhood development and other social programs that tackle the so-called social determinants of health. As the charts below show, the U.S. spends far less than other advanced industrial nations in the share of gross domestic product devoted to social services, even as it spends the most on healthcare. We can and must do better. Unfortunately, this Congress and president want to take us in the opposite direction.
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