By Sarah Vidrine
A couple of weeks ago the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the slimmest of margins. The bill survived partially as a result of considerable pressure on members to just pass something. I don’t know whether our Senators will bow to the same pressure as their peers in the House, but here’s what I do know (and what yesterday’s Congressional Budget Office score confirms): the AHCA won’t insure more people, lower the cost of care, or improve access to better health or better coverage. Let’s call it what it is – a bill that cuts corporate taxes at the expense of children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, and shifts the costs of care to the state, putting North Carolina’s budget and our people at risk.
As North Carolina’s Senators Burr and Tillis consider a health care reform proposal, we hope they’ll consider these facts and their implications for North Carolina.
FACT: this bill would cut over $800 billion from the Medicaid program over the next ten years. Medicaid is an efficient insurance program, particularly in North Carolina where we have a lower per-enrollee cost than most other states. Medicaid’s costs have grown at a lower annual percentage than private insurance even though Medicaid provides high-quality coverage to expensive populations, such as children with disabilities and other special health care needs.
FACT: this bill does nothing to address the cost of medical care. The costs remain; the federal government just doesn’t wouldn’t pay their share. The burden and the risk would be pushed to the state. If the state couldn’t pay, then provider reimbursement rates could be lowered, eligibility levels could be reduced, and benefits could be lost.
FACT: this bill cuts over $275 billion in subsidies that help families afford health insurance premiums. These reductions not only put adequate coverage farther out of reach for many families, they also represent the largest tax increase imposed on low and moderate-income people in the past few decades.
So where do the savings go? Congress and President Trump are planning to cut over $800 billion from Medicaid and more than $275 billion from subsidies that offset the cost for families. If the goal of the AHCA was to improve Medicaid and replace the ACA with a better set of laws and policies, lawmakers would reinvest this money in an alternative delivery system. Rather, Congress shifts $874 billion into their plan to rewrite the tax code. That’s not a health care bill—that’s a just a big cut to health care for kids, the elderly, and people with disabilities.