CALL TO ACTION: Oppose AHCA, Protect the ACA

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June 25, 2017 UPDATE

ACA vs. AHCA: Know the Facts

At ARxC, we are dedicated to the protection of quality, comprehensive, and affordable health care for all Americans. The Affordable Care Act or ACA (also known as ‘Obamacare’) ensures these protections are in place. The law, while not perfect, provides access to the care and treatment their providers prescribe.

To date, the ACA has provided health insurance to 20 million Americans, many of whom are living with chronic and serious health conditions. This has led to more than 90% of Americans having health insurance. If the newly insured, many of whom were previously uninsured or underinsured, 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 the 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. The ACA ensures all Americans, except for those remaining on grandfathered health plans, can access health insurance that cover essential health care, with contraceptive care and preventive services being free so that health problems can be avoided or treated at an earlier stage. However, due to these quality standards and the uncertainty of our health system, there are a few select counties in Washington, Nevada, Missouri, and Ohio where insurers are projected to not offer affordable coverage options. Despite the Republican Administration’s claims that this is an indication of a crumbling infrastructure, these states are independently taking action to fill these gaps (see how Nevada is working to cover their uninsured).

Finally, it is important to stress that why the cost of health care continues to rise in our capitalist country, the ACA has, for the first time in 50 years, slowed this rise in costs. This is despite the fact that health insurers are making record profits off of their beneficiaries.

Many Georgians are feeling unsure and ill from the proposed changes to the ACA. This is understandable given the rhetoric and politics that have infiltrated our health system. It is important to remain beholden to the principles that remain critical to a thriving health system: accessibility, affordability, quality, responsiveness, choices and transparency, and innovative patient-centered care.

Experts from across the country have analyzed the AHCA and have come to the conclusion that it goes directly against these core principles.

 

The AHCA would:

·       Take health insurance from 23 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. (Go to NASHP's State Chart Book: Comparison of Predicted Premium Differences across Counties under the ACA and the AHCA to see how premiums will be affected in Georgia).

·       Give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthy, insurance and drug companies, while eliminating tax credits for working families.

·       Allow 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.

·       Eliminate the Public Health Prevention Fund which supports a variety of programs dedicated to preventing disease and promoting health.

 

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) independent analysis found the Republican House’s version of the AHCA (the CBO report for the Republican Senate bill is not yet available): 

- Could lead to 23 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.

 

June 24, 2017 Update on status of ACA Reconciliation to proposed AHCA

·       The Republicans in the House passed H.R.1628 (the AHCA) on May 4, 2017 and was sent to the Senate on June 7, 2017. 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 have privately negotiated a consensus on how they would alter the AHCA. The Republican Senate version of the AHCA was released publicly on June 22, 2017.

·       With a CBO score released, 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.

·       Senate Republican leadership has indicated it is working with the goal of putting the bill to floor for a vote 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.

·       I 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.

 

Many Republicans in Georgia are claiming Democrats passed the ACA in the same covert manner with which the Republicans are seeking to pass the AHCA (a bill that is proven to be an attempt to transfer funds from our health system and into the pockets of the top 1% wealthiest Americans). This claim is irrelevant when it comes to the health and well-being of Americans and the dangers that the AHCA poses from taking back coverage and eliminating patient protections. However, these claims are false. ARxC would like to refer the individuals making these claims to the Congressional Record of the ACA and the Congressional Record of the AHCA.  Note that Congress – both Republicans and Democrats – took a total of 209 actions over 6 months and 6 days (from September 17, 2009 through March 23, 2010) to pass the ACA. Only Republicans have taken 17 actions beginning March 20, 2017 in hopes of passing the bill by June 30, 2017.