Yesterday the House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is extremely disappointed in the Representatives who cast an ‘aye’ vote for blatantly ignoring the realities of this bill. The AHCA will hurt people with disabilities through higher health care costs, less coverage, and a greater risk of institutionalization.
Supporters of the AHCA argue that individual states know how to best manage their resources and believe that their bill does provide financial support directly to vulnerable populations, including people with pre-existing conditions.
The AHCA gives states the power to decide whether or not they will provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. When states had the option to expand Medicaid, many did not take it and left millions of people with disabilities uncovered or with insufficient coverage to live independently. It is likely that many of these same states will opt to leave people with pre-existing conditions without coverage. Proponents of the AHCA argue that it provides $8 billion for states to set up high-risk pools to cover those with pre-existing conditions who are unable to find affordable coverage on the open market. This pool of funding is inadequate to guarantee affordable coverage.
Furthermore, the AHCA would slash Medicaid funding by over $800 billion and end Medicaid expansion, leaving states with the option to provide less coverage to existing Medicaid recipients, reduce the number of people who receive Medicaid, or both. The AHCA would also reduce or eliminate essential health benefits (including prescription drugs, mental health services, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, and more).
Unfortunately, it is difficult to gauge the full impact of the bill that was passed because the House voted on it without waiting for an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan federal agency that provides budget and economic information to Congress. The CBO analysis of an earlier version of the AHCA estimated that 24 million people could lose their health insurance within ten years.
The bill now moves to the Senate where it only needs 51 votes to pass. Please contact your Senators and ask them not to take the same callous action as their counterparts in the House. Tell them to vote NO on the AHCA to allow people with disabilities to lead healthy lives and receive the services and supports that let us live independently in the homes and communities of our choice.
Posted on May 5, 2017