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.