While Senate leaders continue to work in secret on their “healthcare” bill – the crux of which still appears to be a massive cut to the Medicaid program – an assembly of medical professionals, families whose kids rely on Medicaid for long-term supports and faith leaders gathered to voice concerns about the impact of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Louisiana. A draft of the bill is expected to be released Thursday, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing for a vote before lawmakers return home for the July 4 recess. The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp reports:
Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops director Rob Tasman stressed to the others gathered at the clinic — among them doctors, parents with disabled children, AARP representatives — that health care should be treated as a basic right. “This is a life issue,” Tasman said. “A life and death issue.” They noted that if the Senate proposal resembles the House plan, it could leave thousands in Louisiana without health care or paying higher costs, according to a new analysis from the Louisiana Budget Project. “The AHCA is just bad policy,” said Dr. Roberta Vicari, a pediatrician at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. “It brings a lump to my throat … One illness for your children and you would feel that need.”
LBP’s new report highlights how the “healthcare” bill would hurt hard-working Louisianans, children with disabilities and senior citizens.
“It would be very bad for Louisiana,” LBP director Jan Moller said Tuesday. Louisiana expanded its Medicaid program last year through the Affordable Care Act and now covers more than 431,000 newly-enrolled people — mostly the working poor. LBP’s review of the House-passed AHCA shows some 540,000 Louisiana residents who are projected to sign on to Medicaid by 2020 would lose their coverage. Beyond the expansion population, the report suggests the drastic reduction in federal Medicaid funding would force Louisiana to raise taxes or decrease services for children, people with disabilities and older residents who have traditionally relied on the program. Another 110,889 Louisiana residents who receive premium tax credit subsidies to purchase private insurance would see that assistance reduced by an average of $3,013 a year.
For more information on how the AHCA would affect Louisiana and how to take action, please visit https://www.coveragemattersla.org/ .
AHCA really a “Medicaid cut” bill
The New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz explains that the American Health Care Act is primarily about deep cuts and a fundamental restructuring of the Medicaid program, a move the Congressional Budget Office estimates will lead to 14 million people losing health coverage.
“This is the most consequential change in 50 years for low-income people’s health care,” said Joan Alker, the executive director of the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University. “This is a massive change that has hardly been discussed.” … About half of all births in the country are covered by Medicaid, and nearly 40 percent of children are covered through the program. Medicaid covers the long-term care costs of two-thirds of Americans living in nursing homes, many of them middle-class Americans who spent all of their savings on care before becoming eligible. It covers children and adults with disabilities who require services that most commercial health insurance doesn’t include. It covers poor women who are pregnant or raising young children.
The Huffington Post’s Jonathan Cohn digs into the story of Justin Martin, a college student with cerebral palsy who relies on Medicaid every day.
Martin is living at his family’s home on the outskirts of Columbus for the summer. When I visited him there recently, he pointed out some of the places that Medicaid money goes. There is the lift-and-pulley system that operates along a track in the ceiling, similar to the one in his campus apartment. It takes him from his bedroom into the bathroom when he needs to use the toilet or take a shower. To get around, he uses a motorized wheelchair that can change its shape in order to stretch out his legs or make him stand. For longer trips, there’s a van with a lift for the wheelchair. … But ultimately the debate over Medicaid’s future is really a debate over whether America should keep trying to fulfill the basic promise it has made over the past half-century ― not just to those with disabilities but to all groups covered by Medicaid, and to seniors in Medicare, and most recently to the children and working-age adults who have gotten insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of coverage.
Bipartisan coalition of governors publish health priorities
Following a bipartisan letter from seven governors, including Gov. John Bel Edwards, that outlined concerns with the House and Senate “health care” bills, the National Governor’s Association’s Health Care Reform Network issued its priorities for health reform legislation. As Aviva Aron-Dine with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explains, the bipartisan group of governors’ priorities are in sharp contrast to what is included in the AHCA.
The governors stress their opposition to federal Medicaid cuts and cost shifts to states, call for maintaining current federal funding for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and emphasize that tax credits that help people afford private coverage should be adequate for lower-income people and adjust for income, age, and geographic variation in costs.
Building on the understanding that the AHCA does not provide affordable access to quality health care, Gov. John Kasich, a Republican from Ohio and Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat from Colorado, explain that a bipartisan solution is necessary.
It will be worse yet if senators — like House members before them — decide these questions behind closed doors, avoiding the open discussion and transparency needed to make the American people full participants in this vital debate. We certainly agree that reforms need to be made to our nation’s health-care system. But as governors from opposite sides of the political aisle, we feel that true and lasting reforms are best approached by finding common ground in a bipartisan fashion.
Keller: Governor had a number of “wins” in 2017 session
Gov. John Bel Edwards did not get everything he wanted during the legislative session, but he did get some of what he wanted, while also coming off as the adult in the room. The governor was able to pass much needed criminal justice reform, fully fund higher education and pass a budget that uses all the money available for the upcoming fiscal year. The Advocate’s Lanny Keller:
The final budget fully funds TOPS, a priority for both Republicans and Democrats, but one that affects a lot of households. A significant number of state employees got a 2 percent raise, another good thing for the governor politically. Colleges and universities, savaged by cuts under former Gov. Bobby Jindal, got a reprieve from further cuts. University of Louisiana System President Jim Henderson called it “one of the most successful legislative sessions for higher education in nearly a decade.”
Number of the Day
121,600 – Number of Louisianans projected to lose “traditional” Medicaid coverage designed for children, mothers, pregnant women and people with disabilities as a result of the AHCA. This would be in addition to 540,000 people – the projected Medicaid expansion enrollment in 2020 – whose coverage would be in jeopardy due to that program’s elimination. (Source: Center for American Progress)