The ADAPT Community is gravely concerned by the House of Representatives’ ill-considered passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The legislation, which received significant amendments only days before the vote, has serious problems which House Republicans – in their haste to pass something and declare victory – have refused to address.
This legislation – if it were to pass the Senate and become law – will have a truly devastating impact on seniors and people with disabilities. It will:
- Destroy the insurance protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions that allow them to receive necessary healthcare services;
- Undercut access to vital Medicaid healthcare as well as long-term services and supports (LTSS) needed by older and disabled Americans; and
- Eliminate the incentive to provide community-based services to disabled Americans established in the Community First Choice Option.
Eliminating Protections for People with Pre-existing Conditions
Although recent changes to the legislation secured the support of moderate Republicans, those changes do little, if anything, to mitigate the dangerous impact of this legislation, particularly on people with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will be able to charge exorbitant premiums to disabled and elderly individuals leaving these individuals without healthcare.
Cutting Medicaid Funding Needed to Support Elderly and Disabled Americans
As written, the legislation will cut more than $830 billion from the Medicaid program, forcing states to choose between raising state taxes and cutting healthcare services for poor children, the disabled and seniors. These cuts couldn’t come at a worse time. As our population continues to age, more and more people will rely on Medicaid to cover vital long-term services and supports, further straining state resources. States will reduce Medicaid benefits, impose waiting lists, implement unaffordable financial obligations, or otherwise restrict access to needed assistance. Without adequate support in the community, families will be forced to place their loved ones in nursing facilities and other institutions, only increasing the strain on already-limited Medicaid resources.
Eliminating Federal Incentives Designed to Promote Community Integration
For elderly and disabled Americans who rely on it, Medicaid is not just a health insurance program: it literally supports their lives and their liberty. Outside of the Disability Community, there has been virtually no public discussion about how the AHCA eliminates the enhanced Federal funding associated with the Community First Choice Option (CFCO). CFCO was the result of nearly a quarter century of work by ADAPT and other disability rights advocates. This Medicaid option provides additional funding to states that provide LTSS in the community to people who would otherwise be placed in a nursing facility or institution.
CALL TO ACTION
We do not believe that American voters intended this Congress and President to cut vital services for economically disadvantaged, elderly and disabled Americans to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest of our nation. Indeed, President Trump campaigned on a promise that there would be no cuts to Medicaid. Now, more than ever, it is critical that disabled and elderly individuals, their families, and their advocates understand the dangerous implications of this legislation and become politically active. Although AHCA has passed the House, it still must pass the US Senate before it can be signed into law. We must educate our communities about the dangerous implications of this bill and urge our Senators to vote against the bill.
ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.