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Our Synopsis of the Senate's "Better Care" Health Care Bill

June 26, 2017

Action Annapolis is committed to advocating for high quality, comprehensive, confidential, nondiscriminatory health care coverage. We want affordable and accessible healthcare for everyone. We support meaningful healthcare reform that meets the needs for all Americans enacted this year.  We do believe neither the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) nor the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) meet our criteria.  Both bills have been met with near-universal backlash from patient advocates, hospitals and public health organizations.

 

Below we provide a brief summary of the health care bill introduced by Senate Republicans on June 22.  Please click on the links for more information.

 

1)  Planned Parenthood’s federal funding will be cut off for one year which would deprive the organization of more than 40% of its funding. Planned Parenthood serves 2.4 million people a year, three-quarters of whom have incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. The law also prohibits the use of premium subsidies for policies that cover abortion.

 

2)  There will be fewer "Essential Health Benefits". Under the current ACA, all plans are required to provide essential health benefits, such as maternity, substance abuse, and mental health coverage. In addition, the ACA, protects patients from catastrophic costs by requiring caps on maximum out of pocket spending. The GOP Plan will allow States to waive these requirements, thereby weakening these provisions.

 

3)  Pre-existing conditions: Both the House and Senate GOP healthcare bills state they will keep the ACA requirement for insurers to accept everyone and charge the same rates, with few exceptions. However, they both allow States to waive insurance requirements, and regulations standardizing which benefits insurers must cover (as stated in #2).  As younger customers flock to cheaper, “essential benefits only” plans, customers with pre-existing conditions will find themselves in a much more expensive market, with potentially higher premiums.

 

4)  Older customers could be charged more: The bill would give insurance companies more leeway in setting premiums based on age.  Under the ACA, insurers can’t charge older customers more than three times what young adults pay. The Senate bill increases that to five to one.  This change results in a reduction in premium costs for young adults, while increasing them for older Americans, potentially pricing them out of the market.

 

5)  Cuts in federal Medicaid funding will affect Maryland:  Of the 23 million estimated to lose coverage in the House bill, 60% were enrolled in Medicaid, says Christine Eibner of RAND Corporation. There are currently 274,000 Marylanders in the expanded Medicaid program at risk of losing their coverage. The current GOP legislation would cut Medicaid by phasing out the Medicare expansion and allowing states to replace per capita caps with block grants.  The concern of most experts (and many state governors) is that the pool of federal funding to Medicaid will not cover program costs, forcing cuts in enrollment, reimbursement, or both.  This will result in loss of coverage for people undergoing treatment for mental health and substance abuse, opioid addiction, low-income households and elderly people in nursing homes. These cuts will also directly affect hospitals that rely on Medicaid reimbursement, doctors willing to see Medicaid patients, and pharmaceutical companies that have a large percentage of their sales to Medicaid programs.

 

Please contact our Maryland Senators with your concerns about this bill immediately.  Also, please encourage your out of state family and friends to contact their Senators, as this bill will affect millions nationwide if allowed to pass.

 

Senator Van Hollen: 202.224.4654

https://www.vanhollen.senate.gov/content/contact-senator

 

Senator Cardin: 202.224.4524

https://www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/

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