The Republican-led House of Representatives voted narrowly today to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with legislation that would potentially cost millions of families their health coverage and drive up costs for millions more, while giving a trillion-dollar tax cut to wealthy individuals and corporations.
It also represents the largest restructuring and financial cut to the Medicaid program since its inception more than 50 years ago by walking away from a sustained federal commitment to people with disabilities, children, and the elderly — and leaving them to the whims of state legislatures. This bill will create per capita caps, which will further undermine the system of long-term services and supports for American with disabilities. It will also allow states to opt out of ACA protections that prohibit insurers from charging higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions or selling low-quality coverage that does not include “essential health benefits” – like hospitalization, mental health services, and maternity and newborn care.
Since Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) are considered “optional”, states may redirect HCBS funds to mandatory Medicaid services, further undermining the system of long-term supports and services for Americans with disabilities. Per capita caps erase Medicaid eligibility, pressuring states to do more will less. These actions will force states to cut services and narrow eligibility requirements.
While today’s vote was not entirely unexpected, it does not make it any less devastating. If nothing else, it galvanizes our advocacy efforts to stop this bill in the Senate. This bill can be called nothing other than an attack on people with disabilities and their families. If this bill is signed into law in its current form, lives will be lost when people are unable to access health care and the community supports they need. Medicaid funded long- term supports and services, which help people live independently and be included in their communities and workplaces, will be even scarcer as waiting lists for services will grow in every region of the country.
“We are devastated that the House Republicans used the Affordable Care Act repeal to decimate Medicaid funding for Americans with disabilities. The ACA went a long way to protect those with pre-existing conditions and those who rely on long-term services and supports. We will fight as long and as hard as we need to in order to ensure that this bill does not pass in the Senate.”—Allison Wohl, APSE Executive Director
Now is the time to get ready. Now is the time to become active in the advocacy efforts. Now is the time to prepare for the work we will need to do to stop this bill in the Senate. APSE is here for you, we will be providing resources, background information, tools, and most importantly support for you to join us in reaching out to Senators to #SaveMedicaid.