The new draft to repeal the Affordable Care Act by Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and the GOP Leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives goes a lot further to undermine the health care for Californians than simply undoing the coverage for many of the five million Californians getting direct help from the Affordable Care Act.
Health Access has produced a NEW fact sheet detailing California impacts of the proposal, now available on its website. A press briefing teleconference from this morning is now also available for listening, which included Anthony Wright and Beth Capell from Health Access California, Sara de Guia, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Betsy Imholz of Consumers Unions, and Ken Jacobs, Chair of the UC-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. The replay of that call on California Impacts is available: (800)475-6701, Access Code: 420160.
The House leadership’s proposal would undermine the coverage of millions of Americans who get coverage through Medicaid or by buying it as individuals. No Congress member should vote on any proposal without the regular independent analysis of its impacts on coverage, costs, and finances. Even with many unanswered questions, its clear this proposal will leave many more Americans uninsured, and far more dealing with higher health care costs. The reason the Republican leadership wants to rush the vote before the analysis by the Congressional Budget Office is that know the finding will be that this proposals costs more while covering less.”
While no Congress member should support this plan, California Representatives have specific reasons why this would hurt our citizens and undermine our health system specifically:
1) California’s health system has the most to lose, since we had one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation, and then implemented and improved upon the Affordable Care Act to see the greatest percentage reduction of any state. This proposal would undo the progress and the steps California took to implement the law and use it as a platform for additional improvements.
2) The plan goes well beyond repealing the Affordable Care Act and the loss of coverage for millions Californians by also capping Medi-Cal, which covers a third of our state–and nearly half of Central Valley. Over 14 million Californians depend on Medi-Cal, which is a fundamental financing pillar of our whole health system.
3) California already has one of the lowest per capita costs of any Medicaid program in the nation, with minimal opportunities for additional efficiency or savings, so additional costs would force real cuts–to benefits, services, access and eligibility.
4) California has a bigger and more robust individual insurance market than virtually every other state–which means we have more to lose is this proposal passes and sends our market into a death spiral. By reducing the tax credits that low- and moderate-income families need to afford coverage, hundreds of thousands will drop coverage, meaning the rest of us would be left in a smaller and sicker insurance pool–spiking premiums significantly and leading to additional uninsured Californians.
5) California would be disproportionately disadvantaged with a reduced tax credit that is not based on need, based on a person’s income and the cost of premiums. California had above-average health costs, and a higher percentage of lower-wage workers than other states. The tax credit, already reduced, won’t mean as much to California families, and won’t keep up with medical inflation. This means more families will fall off coverage, creating even greater adverse selection issues and rising premiums in our marketplace sooner.
Overall, the replacement plan cuts and caps coverage and affordability assistance for low- and moderate-income working Americans, just to give a massive tax giveaway to the wealthiest. This isn’t repeal and replace, but repeal and destroy coverage for millions of Californians. Congress should be ashamed of rushing to committee votes on these bills this week without the normal independent analysis of coverage and financial impacts. When they promised to repeal the ACA they in the same breath pledged to replace it, with something better, yet they are not waiting for the analysis that will certainly indicate that this covers less and costs more. No member of the California Congressional delegation, of either party, should vote for such a proposal that would do such disproportionate harm to their own constituents and to our state’s health system on which we all rely.