Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives have finally released their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Their replacement bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), contains provisions that would seriously undermine home and community based services and community integration currently funded by Medicaid. Our Director of Advocacy and External Affairs, Amber Smock, explains further and issues a call to action below:
Message from Amber Smock:
"People with disabilities fighting for the right to live integrated, included lives in the community need to know that the new federal bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), will make it much more difficult for you to exercise your right to live in the community. Remember that the Olmstead Supreme Court decision, whose original plaintiffs were Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, made it your right to live in the community, not in a nursing home or institution. For those who rely on Medicaid funding, the AHCA attacks your funding by creating a system called per capita caps, where the federal government gives your state money based on your type of category (aged/blind/disabled, kids, etc). The amount of Medicaid funds is the same for each person in the category---there is no flexibility for those of you whose supports cost more. The per capita caps will stay at FY 16 level funding permanently without accounting for growth, meaning that each year as your state program grows, there will be less money for all. Starting in 2020, the Federal government could actually make big Medicaid cuts to your state if your state spends too much on you. Medicaid providers won't get paid and you won't have access to supports/healthcare you may need to stay in the community. Yes, you could be forced into a nursing home or institution, even though it costs more.
The AHCA also eliminates the 6% enhanced Federal match for the Community First Choice Option (also known as the K Plan or 1915(k)). If you are a senior, the AHCA is going to make you pay more for private insurance plans. You may not be able to afford this. If you are a younger person with a private/employer health insurance health care plan, you are going to have to do a lot more paperwork and saving because you will have to pay out of pocket for more stuff.
All of these things will make it more difficult to exercise our right to live in the community; be clear, it could PULL THE RUG OUT from under community-based supports. The AHCA is a giant budget cut to Medicaid! It makes Medicaid pay for benefits for wealthier people!
So today, let's take action!
1. Call your Senators and Representatives today 202-224-3121. Don't let them take away health care and services for millions of people and replace it with a plan that CUTS Medicaid.
2. Call your Governors today, find out how to contact them here. In Illinois, Governor Rauner can be reached at 217-782-0244 (Springfield) or 312-814-2121 (Chicago). Remind your Governor what cuts to the ACA and Medicaid would mean for the state budget and why they matter to you. Share that same message with state legislators.
What to Say:
• I am your constituent.
• I am a person with a disability or I am a family
member of someone with a disability or I am a professional in the disability field.
• Do NOT repeal the ACA without a replacement that maintains or improves coverage and protections.
• Do NOT allow restructuring and cuts to Medicaid to be part of an ACA replacement.
• The ACA and Medicaid helps me/my family member to have health care and community based services.
Thanks Amber for that message. In addition to your phone calls, Twitter is an important tool to make your voice heard. If you tweet today on this issue, use these hashtags:
Here are some sample tweets to use:
PWD rely on Medicaid. Funding caps and cuts will hurt them and their families the most. #SaveMedicaid
Federal funding caps mean the rest of us will pay $$$ to keep same quality care #KeepAmericaCovered
Caps = less funding. Less funding = fewer options #SaveMedicaid
The ACA gave millions of disabled Americans and their caregivers access to health insurance.#KeepAmericaCovered
The ACA got things like speech therapy, habilitation services covered. These services heal. #CoverageMatters
Phew. A lot of info and ways to take action. Stay tuned, as this is an evolving, and potentially fast-moving, situation. Access Living staff, including Amber and our CEO Marca Bristo, are in DC this week and will be tracking developments.
This is a massive attack on our civil right to live in the community, and it's time to fight back! As always,
Thanks for all you do,
Manager of Organizing and Policy