Beginning today, Congress and the President will begin meeting in Philadelphia to discuss a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. In today’s action item, our fifth, we discuss our response and suggested action items.
What you should know. Unlike our positions on certain of the nominees, we do not take a position for or against a replacement because Congress has not announced a plan. But there is a role for advocacy because there are certain minimum criteria that we should insist upon:
1. If the ACA is to be repealed, there must be a replacement plan. Sounds obvious but as ably documented by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a repeal would cause over 1.1 million Pennsylvanians to lose their health care and add to the state’s structural deficit. The Urban Institute calculates that 29.8 million people nationally will be uninsured.
2. The replacement plan must increase, or at least not reduce, the number of people with health insurance. Suggestions, such as block grants to states to spend as they choose, will not provide coverage to all of the people who need it and will reduce the scope of coverage for people who do get it. Fewer people will be covered, and those who keep their coverage will have fewer benefits.
3. The replacement plan must afford better, or at least the same, scope of coverage as under the Affordable Care Act (for example, coverage for pre-existing conditions, family planning services).
4. The replacement plan must offer coverage for the same cost, or less, to individuals.
5. The replacement plan must not increase the cost to states. For example, Medicaid, enacted in 1965, provided that states and the federal government shared the cost of Medicaid on roughly a 50/50 basis. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid coverage to a new group of people—low-income adults—but the federal government picked up more than 90% of the costs. If the ACA’s new, higher, federal share is eliminated, a state would have to pick up the difference in covering the new group of low-income adults.
6. The replacement plan must not affect insurance that has been available for decades to low-income children and people with disabilities. Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, 56 million children received their preventative care and treatment through Medicaid and CHIP; and 10 million people with disabilities were eligible through Medicaid. Those coverages must be left untouched, and these traditional Medicaid beneficiaries should not be burdened with paying for part of the costs of their healthcare.
What you should do:
- Call your Senators’ offices and your Congressperson. Ask for the person responsible for health care.
- Tell them that you have six requirements for any new law (including that it must be in place at the same time as a repeal).
- Ask your Senators and Congressperson for a commitment to these six principles.
- Publish on social media or otherwise the response (or lack of response) you are given.
- Find out when your Congressperson is having a town meeting, attend, and ask for a commitment to the six principles above. (And ask your Congressperson to post town meetings on his or her website.)
- Write a letter to the editor with your thoughts about what a new law must do. This link provides some resources about how to write such a letter.
- Share this email with others who might want to take action.
To find your Senators and Congress people:
For more action:
Resistance in Philly: Fighting for our Lives Demonstration
January 26, 2017, 11 AM – 1 PM
Thomas Paine Plaza
1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19102