Health Care/Medicaid – House Passes Bill to Repeal the ACA, Cut Medicaid

On May 4, the House of Representatives narrowly passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213. The Arc strongly opposed the bill for many reasons, the most critical being the deep cuts and radical restructuring of the Medicaid program. Over $800 billion will be cut from the program over 10 years and millions of people may lose coverage, based on the analysis of the original version of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office.

The AHCA will let states opt to allow insurance companies go back to charging more for people with pre-existing conditions. Over 50 million people have pre-existing conditions including many people with disabilities. States would also have the option of eliminating the requirement that health plans cover essential health benefits such as prescription drugs, therapy services, mental health services, and other basic health care services. The combination of these changes makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to access affordable health insurance that meets their health care needs.

The Senate is expected to develop legislation and has a workgroup of Senators to re-work portions of the House bill. Because the Senate plans to also use the special budget rules known as budget reconciliation, they will only need 51 votes to pass the bill. Medicaid restructuring will likely be considered in the Senate because the cuts to Medicaid in the House version pay for the removal of the taxes on drugs, health plans, devices, and the other costs of the AHCA. The Arc will work to persuade the Senate not to cut and cap the Medicaid program.

Click here to watch the latest in The Arc’s series of videos on the critical importance of health care and Medicaid to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Please share with your networks.

Health/Medicaid – The Arc Seeking Reports of Activity During Congressional Recess

The Arc is seeking records of how its constituents engaged their Members of Congress during the April recess. If you engaged your Member of Congress on the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid, whether in the form of calling or emailing their offices, meeting directly with them or their staffs, or attending a town hall, please share your experience using our action alert. We thank you for being part of our efforts.

Health/Medicaid – The Arc Seeking Reports of Activity During Congressional Recess

The Arc is seeking records of how its constituents engaged their Members of Congress during the April recess. If you engaged your Member of Congress on the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid, whether in the form of calling or emailing their offices, meeting directly with them or their staffs, or attending a town hall, please share your experience using our action alert. We thank you for being part of our efforts.

Medicaid – HHS Secretary and CMS Administrator Write Letter to Governors Regarding Medicaid Changes

On March 14, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Thomas Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma sent a letter to Governors expressing the Administration’s priorities in Medicaid policy. Among the topics mentioned were speeding up the review of state plan amendments and waivers, allowing more premiums or contributions from beneficiaries, the use of alternative benefit plan designs such as health savings accounts, and waivers of retroactive coverage and presumptive eligibility. The letter also referred to the Administration’s openness to using demonstration authority to develop health care plans that focus on training and employment. This has been widely interpreted to indicate that the Administration will consider work requirements for adults applying for Medicaid, a proposal that a number of states had included in demonstrations but the previous Administration would not approve. The letter also indicated the Administration would be pursuing additional time for states to implement the Home and Community-Based Services settings rule and looking at ways to engage with states on the implementation of the rule. The Arc has expressed concern about the letter.

Health/Medicaid – House Speaker Cancels Vote Bill to Repeal Affordable Care Act and Cut Medicaid

On March 24, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that there will not be a vote on H.R.1628, the American Health Care Act because he lacked the votes to pass the bill. It is not expected that another bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act will be considered in the near future. In the days before the bill was pulled, several changes were made including allowing a Medicaid block grant, adding incentives for states to institute work requirements, eliminating the requirement that health plans cover basic health services, and ending the extra funding for the Medicaid expansion earlier. The Arc opposed H.R.1628 because it would have cut and capped federal spending in the Medicaid program which jeopardizes services for people with I/DD and their families. The Arc also opposed using cuts in the Medicaid program to pay for the repeal of the ACA, including the repeal of the taxes it imposed. The replacement plan provided inadequate and unaffordable health insurance, and about 24 million people would lose their health insurance by 2024. The Arc and its members, along with members of numerous human service coalitions representing beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid program, view the decision to pull the AHCA as a victory for people who need health care and their families. The Arc appreciates the work of those who voiced their opinions through weeks of emailing, phone calls, and town hall meetings and helped make this happen.

Health/Medicaid – House Committees Markup Bill to Cap Medicaid and Repeal the ACA

On March 8 and 9, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup of the Medicaid and other provisions of the American Health Care Act, those parts of the repeal and replace bill over which the Committee has jurisdiction. The bill will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by altering the current federal/state partnership and cost reimbursement structure and replacing it with a per capita cap. This will significantly limit federal funding to the states now and into the future. In addition, the bill will begin the process of repealing major sections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the same days, the House Ways and Means Committee held a markup repealing the tax provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making other changes.

These Committee markups are part of the budget reconciliation process which allows only certain revenue and spending provisions to be included. The Committee bills will be combined into one bill by the House Budget Committee, possibly as early as this week. We understand that the plan is to have the bill ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives before the end of March. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he hopes to schedule a vote on the House bill before the mid-April recess. If passed by the Congress, the legislative direction the House leadership is considering would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and their families. The Arc will continue to convey our concerns to Congress about the impact of the repeal of the ACA and restructuring of Medicaid. Visit the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committee web sites for more information or to access archived video of the markups.

Health/Medicaid – Senate Committee Votes to Approve Verma Nomination

On March 2, the Senate Finance Committee voted 14-12 to recommend that the full Senate confirm Seema Verma as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services. CMS oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a health insurance program for Social Security beneficiaries. Medicaid is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals. Both programs serve people with disabilities. In addition to medical care, Medicaid also covers long term supports and services such as residential support, home and community based services, personal assistance, respite care, supported living, assistive technology, and supported employment.

Health/Medicaid – House Committees May Markup Bill to Cap Medicaid and Repeal the ACA This Week

This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Ways and Means Committee are each expected to begin markup of a bill that will fundamentally restructure the Medicaid program by altering the current federal/state partnership and cost reimbursement structure and replacing it with a per capita cap. This will significantly limit federal funding to the states now and into the future. In addition, the bill will begin the process of repealing major sections of the Affordable Care Act. These Committee markups are part of the budget reconciliation process which allows only certain revenue and spending provisions to be included. The Committee bills are expected to move quickly and be combined into one bill by the House Budget Committee. We understand that the plan is to have the bill ready for a vote by the full House of Representatives before the end of March. The Senate Majority Leader has indicated that he hopes to schedule a vote on the House bill before the mid-April recess. The bill development has been controversial because no official version is available for public review. The draft bill has been very closely held and some Members of Congress have publicly complained about not being able to obtain a copy of the bill. However, based on leaked earlier versions, The Arc believes that, if passed by the Congress, the legislative direction the House leadership is considering would have devastating impacts on people with disabilities and their families. The Arc will continue to convey our concerns about the impact of the repeal of the ACA and restructuring of Medicaid to Congress.

Health/Medicaid – Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearing for CMS Administrator Nominee

On February 16, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the nomination of Seema Verma to be Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS oversees both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is a health insurance program for Social Security beneficiaries. Medicaid is a joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income individuals. Both programs serve people with disabilities. In addition to medical care, Medicaid also covers long term supports and services such as residential support, personal assistance, respite care, supported living, assistive technology, and supported employment. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.

Medicaid – Government Accountability Office Releases Report on Medicaid Per Capita Caps

On September 9, 2016, the Government Accountability Office released areport on the policy considerations of Medicaid per capita spending caps at the request of the Senate Finance Committee leadership. The report outlines important details to be considered in drafting future legislation including coverage and flexibility, allocation of funds across states and over time, accountability, and broader effects.