April 10, 2017
Congress is on recess now through April 21st, but there is an urgent need for advocates to tell their Members of Congress not to support the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The Administration and House of Representatives are negotiating and applying pressure to try to secure enough votes to pass the legislation.
This is the bill that proposes to change the structure of the Medicaid program through per capita caps and block grants and repeal many provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are critical to people with disabilities.
Now, while Members of Congress are at home in their districts, is the time to remind them that the AHCA is a bad deal for people with disabilities.
On March 24, House Speaker Ryan (R-WI) declared that there were not sufficient votes for the bill to pass the House of Representatives and the bill was pulled. Last week, Members of the House of Representatives and the Trump Administration renewed talks and proposed harmful changes to gain more support of this dangerous bill.
The AHCA repeals major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and many of its critical protections. It cuts $880 billion from the Medicaid program and uses it to help pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, corporations, and providers. The Medicaid changes are particularly devastating to people with disabilities. Under the cap and cut proposal, the federal government would no longer share in the costs of providing health care services and community services beyond the capped amount. It weakens Medicaid by ending the Medicaid expansion earlier, offering Medicaid block grants to states, and promoting work requirements.
The latest proposal makes a bad bill even worse, particularly for people with pre-existing health conditions.
- Loss of essential health benefits: New discussions would give states the option to waive important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act. For example, states could choose to ignore the essential health benefits requirement. The essential health benefits were designed to ensure that health plans cover basic services, many of which are particularly important to people with disabilities. These benefits include prescription drugs, mental health services, and rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices. Without a requirement that basic services be included in the health plans, insurers are likely to drop coverage of therapies or medications that would support people with more health care needs.
- No more protections for pre-existing conditions: Another dangerous change being discussed is letting states waive the requirement for community rating. This would allow insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions – including people with disabilities – whatever they wanted, essentially making the pre-existing condition protections meaningless. The combination of these changes would make it nearly impossible for people with pre-existing conditions to find affordable plans that cover basic health care services.
Participate in town halls or other events:
You can find public events for Members of Congress all across the country thanks to the Town Hall Project. Make sure that Medicaid and health care concerns are raised during these events, and share your personal health care stories.
Keep up the calls:
Members of Congress need to continue hearing from their constituents over the next couple of weeks to #RejectRepeal. Feel free to use SEIU’s call-in numbers with your members to get calls going into the House and Senate.
- English: 866-426-2631
- Español: 877-736-7831
You can also contact your Member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard.
- Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Tweet your Member of Congress and Governor
- Do NOT support the American Health Care Act.
- Do NOT allow the structure of the Medicaid program to be weakened. Per capita caps and block grants would decimate the program on which people with disabilities and seniors rely for critical healthcare and community services.
- Do NOT allow states to opt out of requiring health plans to cover basic health care; keep healthcare affordable for people with pre-existing conditions, including people with disabilities.
If you need guidance on how to advocate with your Member of Congress check out these resources:
FamiliesUSA Recess Toolkit
FamiliesUSA developed a Toolkit to help advocates engage their Members of Congress during recess. The Toolkit includes:
- Social media graphics and posts
- Questions to ask your Members at a townhall
- Townhall event tracker to locate townhalls near you
- Tips for meeting with Members of Congress
- Talking points for interacting with Members
- Tools for directly emailing your Member
- Join the Fight to Protect Medicaid
Resource from the Center for Public Representation to help people with disabilities, their families, and advocates/allies understand the impact of the changes proposed in the AHCA and give them the tools to advocate.
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This action alert was developed with content provided by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and FamiliesUSA.