This special issue of National Disability Institute's Washington Insider gives an update on the fight to save Medicaid and offers information to help readers find and contact their Senators so that they can share their stories about what Medicaid means to them.
Last week, the United States Senate released the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA), its proposed legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA/“Obamacare”). Similar to the recently passed House bill – the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – this proposed legislation, if passed and signed into law, would devastate the disability community by fundamentally altering the funding structure of Medicaid. By capping the amount of federal dollars provided to states through the Medicaid program, this legislation would drastically prohibit the ability of states to provide the supports and services that are essential to allowing children and adults with disabilities to live, work and thrive in the community.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the non-partisan fiscal agent responsible for estimating the costs of proposed legislation, the BCRA would result in the loss of 22 million Americans' health insurance and cut Medicaid funding by approximately $772 billion over the next 10 years. Cuts of this magnitude would inevitably mean severe loss of supports and services, reduced enrollment in Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) and decreased provider rates.
Additionally, despite the legislation just being made public and despite the devastating analysis provided by the CBO, the Senate leadership has indicated that it intends to take this legislation to the floor for a vote as soon as possible after the July 4th recess. This will likely be absent a committee process, absent any hearing to better understand the legislation and absent any legitimate opportunities for sincere debate or suggested amendments.
National Disability Institute (NDI) has been standing alongside the larger disability community in an effort to educate members of the Senate about the largely irreversible consequences of this legislation, particularly that cutting and/or capping Medicaid is unacceptable. However, it is of utmost importance that members hear from you and the time is now. Below are instructions on how to contact your Senators, along with a suggested script. We, at NDI, strongly encourage you to act now: the future of people with disabilities could be decided within the next two weeks.
How to Find Your Senators
Follow this link to find out who your Senators are and learn how to contact them. Remember, every state has two Senators – be sure to contact them both!
How to Communicate with Your Senators
There are several ways that you can contact your Senators, and we encourage you to utilize them all:
- Call your Senator’s Washington, D.C. office
- Call your Senator’s district office
- Email your Senator
- Use social media to communicate with your Senator (ex. tweet @ your Senator)
Share Your Story
Your Senators (and their staff) need to understand what Medicaid means to you and your family. We encourage you to share short stories on how the supports and services provided through the Medicaid program have helped you, your family member(s) or friend(s) with a disability live, work and/or thrive in the community. Additionally, it is important to paint a picture on how that would change if Congress passes the currently proposed legislation.
If you are not comfortable with sharing your story or would like some help, please feel free to use the following script as a guide (attributed to the Center for Public Representation):
Hello, this is [Name]. I’m a resident of [City, State] and [I/my child/sister/friend/co-worker, etc.] is a person with a disability who relies on Medicaid for health care and community support.
The proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act calls for per capita caps that will result in $772 billion in cuts to Medicaid, leaving 10 million people with disabilities at risk of losing the services that enable them to live and participate in the community.
This would be devastating to individuals and families.
A health care plan that would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 is an unacceptable replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Please pass my concerns along to [Senator’s Name].
Thank you for taking my call!
If you are leaving a voicemail: Please leave your full street address and zip code to ensure your call is tallied.
Optional: Add A Personal Story
Again, personal stories are the most effective form of advocacy. Consider the following:
- If you or a family member are on Medicaid (including a waiver), what are the most important services to you? What difference has that made in your life and/or the life of your family member?
- What was your and/or your family member’s lives like before receiving Medicaid services?
- Are you or a family member on a waitlist for Medicaid services? How would getting services make a difference in your lives?