The House Passes a Shameful ACA Replacement Plan

Susan Todd, Executive Director, 504HealthNet                                                   5/4/17

The American Health Care Act (AHCA), the GOP-sponsored ACA replacement plan, passed through the House of Representatives today. This bill cuts $800 billion to the Medicaid program, eliminating benefits for people on Medicaid; decrease subsidies that help people pay for their health insurance; and effectively eliminates Medicaid expansion. In March, the CBO estimated that 24 million Americans would lose health insurance under this bill. Recent amendments to the AHCA made it even worse by allowing states to waive protections for people with pre-existing conditions, meaning that they could be charged much more for health insurance. The high-risk pools that will be implemented to cover people with pre-existing conditions are drastically underfunded, and are subsequently unable to fill the gap. As such, we believe that 24 million is a conservative estimate, as health insurance will certainly be unaffordable for many Americans with pre-existing conditions under this bill.

The AHCA shifts $10 billion in Medicaid costs to Louisiana. With a radical decrease in Federal support, our resource constrained state will be forced to end Medicaid expansion. Over 420,000 low-income Louisianans who recently gained coverage under Medicaid expansion will lose it. Huge cuts to Federal Medicaid funding plus per-capita caps will also lead to reduced coverage and services for 1.28 million Louisiana residents, many elderly or disabled, who rely on Medicaid for health care

Source: The Center on Budget Policies and Priorities

Furthermore, decreased subsidies for insurance will raise costs for Louisianans with Marketplace coverage, on average, by $4,823 annually. Finally, the AHCA will deepen Louisiana’s budget crisis. In the midst of this mess, the wealthiest Louisianans will get a big tax break.

This bill now moves to the Senate, and we ask Senators Kennedy and Cassidy to vote against it. We commend Senator Cassidy for his public opposition to the AHCA over the past few weeks, and urge him to stand by his commitment to prevent anyone from losing coverage, protect those with pre-existing conditions, and to design a system that puts patients first. As Senator Cassidy says, “it is better to give patients adequate coverage.” The alternative is costly, episodic, emergency care for the uninsured.

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504HealthNet is a non-profit coalition of 23 independent community health service providers who represent the primary care and behavioral health safety net for Southeastern Louisiana. Together, this network of community health centers is working collaboratively to improved access to services and better meet the primary care and behavioral health needs of low-income, uninsured, and underinsured residents in the Greater New Orleans area.

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