In recent months, the 115th United States Congress has made repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) part of its agenda. The current Congress plans to repeal the act in stages through diminishing funding through the federal budget, then instructing various House and Senate committees during the budget resolution process and having them vote on it before the Full House and Senate branches vote. They currently say they will replace the ACA after repealing it but it is not certain what will take the ACA’s place. And given the big changes the ACA has made on people’s lives, we don’t know what could be done and undone.
As many in our community rely on healthcare insurance through the Affordable Care Act, this will be a drastic change for us all in getting and accessing crucial healthcare services for everyone. Under the Affordable Care Act, our community has benefitted from many things, such as being to able to register for insurance without being denied for “pre-existing conditions”, expanding Medicaid for our population to be covered, and the ability for young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plan until they turn 26 years old. Those provisions might be eliminated and Medicaid might be drastically defunded if this repeal goes through. In fact, current proposals for administering Medicaid by issuing it to states through block grants (set amounts of federal money) and the state can use it as they see fit and paying for any costs beyond the grant. This will likely see a huge decrease in federal funding for Medicaid – leading to a large loss of Medicaid protecting and a huge decrease of available services, reimbursement rates, and eligibility for Medicaid among others. California may not be as negatively impacted due to how Medicare money is spent through Medi-Cal and other programs, but it is uncertain how much California will be affected and the rest of the country may not be as lucky.
In short, this is very bad news for the FACT community.
What we can do about these proposed changes? The best way is to strongly advocate for protecting the Affordable Care Act. You can find your representatives and senators in Congress here, take down their contact information, and take the time call them to educate them on how the ACA has helped you and your loved ones and advise them to oppose the upcoming changes. You can also find your California representative here and contact the governor of California here to tell them the dangers of Medicaid block grants. FACT especially encourages you contact your representatives if they are part of the Republican party. And you can keep up with current information and advocacy strategies here:
- Protect Our Care Coalition: http://familiesusa.org/initiatives/protect-our-care
- The Arc: http://www.thearc.org/what-we-do/public-policy (Lifeline Toolkit)
- National Health Law Program: http://www.healthlaw.org/
- Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: http://www.cbpp.org/
- Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) through national organizations (e.g., NCIL, ASAN, the Arc, etc.)
To learn more about the ACA repeal, you can download the Westside Regional Center’s presentation of it here: National ACA Medicaid Webinar 1-17-17