Monday, April 10, 2017

Harmful Health Care Bill is Coming Back – Call Congress Now

from Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:

Action is needed during the Congressional recess (April 10-21) to stop the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from moving forward.  This is the bill that proposes to gut 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.

On March 24th, House Speaker Ryan declared that there were not sufficient votes for the bill to pass the House of Representatives and the bill was pulled.  This week, Members of the House of Representatives and the Administration are renewing the talks and proposing harmful changes to gain enough support for passage of this dangerous bill.

The AHCA repeals major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and many of its critical protections.  It cuts $880 billion out of 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 are happening around giving 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 the 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.  

What can you do:

Turn out to town halls or other events: You’ll be able to find all public events that focus on Members of Congress - including town halls with members as well as empty chair events or protests at an office  We need to make sure that Medicaid and health care concerns are raised and that people share their health care stories.

Keep up the calls: Republicans need to keep hearing from folks 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; Spanish: 877-736-7831

Key messages:

·         Do NOT support the American Health Care Act.
·         Do NOT allow Medicaid to be gutted.  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 and keep it affordable for people with pre-existing conditions, including people with disabilities.

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