Feeling Sick from Healthcare Changes: Maintain the ACA

Article Type: 
Blog

 

At ARxC, we agree that the Affordable Care Act, (ACA, also known as ‘Obamacare’), can be improved. We also know that we are dedicated to the protection of quality, comprehensive, and affordable health care for all Americans. We want to maintain the many important protections patients have gained from the ACA that ensures they can access the care and treatment their providers prescribe. We believe the ACA supports and maintains accessibility, affordability, quality, responsiveness, choices and transparency, and innovative patient-centered care.

 

While it is not a perfect law, the ACA has provided health coverage and improved access to care for tens of millions of Americans living with chronic and serious health conditions, many of whom were previously uninsured or underinsured. If they lose access and coverage for even one day, their health and well-being can be immediately jeopardized. Therefore, providing them with continuous coverage and consistent care and treatment must be your number one priority. Furthermore, we cannot afford to lose the numerous ACA patient protections, which have improved access to quality health care for all beneficiaries, including those who already had health coverage. For many Georgians, they are feeling unsure and ill from the proposed changes to the ACA.

 

It is important to understand health care access and affordability would be in jeopardy with The American Health Care Act, (AHCA), and the new Republican congress bill offered to replace the ACA.  This bill would:

  • - Take health insurance from 30 million people, 82 percent of whom are in working families.
  • - Take coverage from the tens of millions of low and moderate income individuals who gained it through Medicaid expansion.
  • - Cause health care premiums to spike drastically for millions more.
  • - Give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy, insurance and drug companies, while eliminating tax credits for working families.
  • - Allows the nation's largest corporations to limit or take away health care coverage for their workers.
  • - Double the number of uninsured children in the country, leaving an additional 4 million children uninsured.
  • - Cut funding of Planned Parenthood health centers that provide an array of preventive and basic health services to millions of women.

 

AHCA changes to the ACA include a number of reforms to the health care system such as:

·       Repealing the individual and employer mandates created by the ACA.

·       Doubling the cap on how much individuals can contribute to their personal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) each year and expanding where these dollars can be used.

·       Giving power to the states with the biggest entitlement reform in a generation putting Medicaid on a budget.

·       Fundamentally, the AHCA will affect the lower-income, older Georgians who live in rural areas where health insurance premiums are higher.

 

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found the AHCA:

§  Could lead to 24 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026. But the plan would also reduce the federal deficit by nearly $340 billion over that 10-year period in large part by cutting Medicaid and on eliminating tax credits for people that help them buy individual health insurance.

§  An estimated 750,000 Georgians — many of them poor and older — could lose their health insurance.

§  The data offers a glimpse into how the AHCA could fundamentally change access to health care in the Peach State. Georgia already has the third highest rate of uninsured in the nation.

 

Update on status of ACA Reconciliation to proposed AHCA

 

·      The House of Representatives continues to hold the AHCA in its chamber until they receive confirmation that the bill conforms to the reconciliation instructions.

·      Senate Republican leadership is in conversation with the Parliamentarian regarding the AHCA’s compliance with reconciliation rules.

·      The House bill is sent to the Senate, leadership would typically put the language through its own committee process but the Senate has decided to skip this step.

·      Instead, several groups of Senators are working to privately negotiate a consensus on how they would alter the AHCA. So far, Senators have not come to any agreement and actual legislative language is far from complete. It is unlikely that any language will be publically available until just before a vote.

·      When Senate Republican leadership has come to agreement on language for their version of the bill; they will need another CBO score before they can vote on the legislation. As a reminder, the Senate version must save at least the $119 billion that CBO estimated would be saved under the House version.

·      With a CBO score released, Senate leadership can offer their version of the legislation as a substitute for the bill passed in the House and move to take a vote.

·      Then the bill goes to the Senate floor. Senate rules require 20 hours of debate before a vote followed by unlimited amendments. Only 51 votes are required to pass budget reconciliation in the Senate.

·      Although Senate Republican leadership has indicated it is working with the goal of having a bill on the floor by July Recess (July 3rd-7th), it may be that we will not see a vote until just before Congress goes on Recess for the month of August.

·      Since the Senate will not pass the same bill as the House, the legislation will either go to a conference committee or directly back to the House for a final vote. If unfortunately, the bill makes it through these steps, the AHCA would then be sent to the President for his signature.

 

CALL to ACTION

It is our job as citizens to tell our legislators that we expect these protective tenets of the ACA be upheld. How can I respond to ensure critical measures of protection under the ACA are upheld?

1.      Please sign onto the “Protect Our Care’ letter and then share with everyone you know and post on your social media outlets. http://act.savemycare.org/page/s/let-us-testify

2.     Call your Senator; write your Senator via Email and Fax. ASK your Senator to oppose any bill that violates the protections and affordable access to patients. Please tell your legislator your concerns about health insurance and your story stating your healthcare needs. Here are some talking points to tell your Senator:

·      While it is not a perfect law, the ACA has provided health coverage and improved access to care for tens of millions of Americans living with chronic and serious health conditions, many of whom were previously uninsured or underinsured. If they lose access and coverage for even one day, their health and well-being can be immediately jeopardized.

·      Therefore, we must provide them with continuous coverage and consistent care and treatment as a number one priority.

·      Furthermore, we cannot afford to lose the numerous patient protections that the ACA provides, including the Essential Health Benefits, which have improved access to quality health care for all beneficiaries, including those who already had health coverage.

·      Currently,  patients are protected from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability and age by health programs and activities operated or funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including Qualified Health Plans. These landmark protections are critical to fulfilling the requirement of preventing discrimination based on pre-existing health conditions and access to the healthcare that every American deserves.

·       Ask your Senator to remember, as you make any changes to the ACA, we urge you not to go back on the promise of affordable and quality care and treatment for everyone, especially those living with chronic and serious illness.

 

The numbers do not lie; the ACA actually started working. Twenty million Americans have health insurance who did not have it before. It is doubtful that most Americans will think that a plan that leads to many more people going without insurance is “better” than the ACA. Our legislators have a rare opportunity to make improvements in our health policy, but they must understand that providing secure insurance for everyone in the country needs to be a central feature of what they do. That is not an unreasonable demand, nor is it an impossible task. It will mean listening to the voices of patients, care-givers and providers. It is the job of our legislators to ensure determined and considerate leadership as they are about to become responsible for the health and well-being of all Americans. It is our job to remind them of this.