Here we are again with another repeal and replace plan

We cannot give up the fight. No matter how many bills they throw out there, we must continue to voice our opposition. We must continue to insist that our healthcare remains intact. We cannot stop.

Here are some things you should know about the bill.

It will cut federal healthcare funding by nearly $300 billion

This legislation will eliminate Medicaid expansion and health insurance marketplace subsidies and replace them with a temporary block grant that is much less than states currently get and disappears altogether in 2027. There is no requirement that any of that already inadequate funding is used to provide low-income Americans with health coverage or give them financial assistance to afford health coverage. See the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for more information.

It will cut Colorado’s funding by $823 million

In 2011, prior to full ACA implementation, Colorado’s uninsured rate was 16%. This year, it’s a mere 6.5%. Slashing our healthcare budget by $823 million, as predicted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will inevitably cause that number to rise. The people most at risk of losing coverage are veterans, retired persons, young people, and individuals with disabilities and pre-existing conditions.

It will eliminate rules about pre-existing conditions, which will raise premiums

This legislation will eliminate the rule that health insurance companies may not impose surcharges on premiums based on pre-existing conditions and health statuses. The Center for American Progress estimates the following premium surcharges (based on pre-ACA premiums):

  • Asthma: $4,340
  • Autism: $5,510
  • Diabetes: $5,600
  • Major depressive/bipolar disorder: $8,490
  • Pregnancy: $17,320
  • Substance use disorder: $20,450
  • Autoimmune disorders: $26,580
  • Metastatic cancer: $142,650

It will leave millions of children without health coverage

The Center for American Progress also points out that while the Senate is spending time talking about this bill, they are ignoring the deadline to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Even though the Senate already agreed to extend CHIP funding for 5 years, the clock is ticking for them to finalize that. If the deadline passes, states are going to start running out of CHIP funds, leaving 9 million low-income children at risk of losing health coverage.

Over 25% of Denver country’s children are at or below the federal poverty line, leaving them dependent on this program and Medicaid to stay healthy. Over 600,000 children in Colorado are covered by Medicaid and CHIP. We must protect them.

Stakeholders are saying no

It isn’t just us that are against the bill. Here’s an incomplete list of organizations and coalitions that have urged Senators to oppose the bill:

Even people with employer-sponsored coverage are at risk

The bill eliminates the individual and employer mandate, meaning that your employer can choose to not sponsor health coverage with no repercussions.

Medicaid will be capped per capita rather than an open-ended entitlement

States will have to be choosy about how they spend their Medicaid funding. This means that the threshold to qualify for Medicaid will be lower, certain health services may be denied, and limits on visits or hospital days may be enforced. This means that many people who qualify for Medicaid now will lose it and many people who will continue to qualify for Medicaid will still be limited in what health services they can receive.

States will be able to apply for waivers in order to deny coverage of the 10 essential health benefits

The ACA established 10 essential health benefits that all health plans must cover. If Graham-Cassidy passes, states will be able to waive this requirement, meaning that crucial services may disappear from state marketplaces in all but the most expensive of health plans. The 10 essential services are:

  • Outpatient care
  • ER visits
  • Inpatient hospital care
  • Pre- and post-natal care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Services and devices to help with injuries, disabilities, and chronic conditions
  • Lab tests
  • Preventative services like counseling, screenings, and vaccines
  • Pediatric services, including dental and vision care

Older Americans are at risk

If this bill passes, states could also apply for waivers that let insurers charge different premiums based on age. Before the ACA, people over 50 were often charged three times as much as younger people for the same health coverage. This could make health coverage unaffordable and inaccessible for our parents, grandparents, and other loved ones.

We need you to speak out against this bill!

If any of the above concerns you, please speak up. The Senate Finance Committee is having a hearing on Monday, September 25 at 2 PM. The public is invited to send testimony for the hearing to DCHcomments@finance.senate.gov. Please send letters, photos, videos, and stories to make a strong statement of opposition, especially if you are a person or organization that serves people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions.

You should also contact your Senators directly and ask them to vote NO. Senator Gardner has not yet decided how he will vote. You can call using a toll-free number:

English: 844.866.1425
Spanish: 844.259.9355

You can also send them a fax. ResistBot makes this REALLY easy. Just text “resist” to 50409 and it will walk you through the steps and send your message via fax for you. If you would like to fax Senator Gardner directly, his fax numbers are below:

Denver: 202.228.7171
D.C.: 202.224.6524

For more information, visit:

http://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/graham-cassidy-health-care-bill-what-you-need-to-know/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/q-a-explaining-the-graham-cassidy-repeal-bill-1505861908

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/09/20/obamacare-repeal-senate-vote-graham-cassidy-242937

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Kate Fitch

I've been with the Network since 2015, when I started as a volunteer. I've been on staff as the Communications Specialist since January 2017. I'm currently in college and pursuing a dual BA in Public Health and Public Administration. I'm most passionate about making sure that people with mental health conditions are fairly represented in the media, at policy tables, and in treatment system planning. In my spare time, I like to crochet, knit, and be the best cat mom ever.

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