Now is the time for the hospital community to weigh in with our members of Congress on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). WSHA needs your hospital’s voice in the discussion about our country’s health care system.
It’s clear that the proposal, as designed now, would reduce access to health coverage, especially for low-income residents. Since the post-election debate on repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), WSHA has been clear that our hospitals’ top priority is to preserve the coverage expansions for our communities. Our message has been simple: If the ACA is replaced, we want to ensure the coverage levels meet or exceed current levels. Due to the reductions in coverage under the AHCA as currently written, WSHA does not support the bill.
Contacts are needed now!
The AHCA has cleared two committees and is likely headed toward a full vote of the House soon. Please contact your member(s) early this week. Please let us know when your contact(s) has been made. We recommend emailing your member’s health legislative assistant and district director. Also, please consider asking for a meeting with your member of Congress or their legislative assistant. See WSHA’s Congressional Directory for information.
I am writing today to urge you to vote against the American Health Care Act.
Since the debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started, Washington State hospitals have been clear that our top priority is preserving the coverage expansions through Medicaid and subsidies to purchase insurance. Without access to health insurance, our communities will be sicker and our health care system will not improve.
The American Health Care Act does not meet that standard and erodes the ability for people in our communities to access health insurance and health services – especially through Medicaid. Some 600,000 residents of Washington State obtained coverage through the Medicaid expansion, providing a needed safety net and giving them access to basic health care services.
The state estimates the proposed law would over time shift more than $1 billion a year in Medicaid costs to our state budget — an amount the state is unlikely to be able to absorb. This would effectively force the state to eliminate coverage, reduce benefits or reduce provider reimbursement. The per-capita Medicaid payments will also likely not meet the needs of our state.
Cuts don’t just hurt low-income individuals — they hurt entire communities. When a large percentage of the community is uninsured and can’t pay for services such as primary care, those services are at risk. This is especially hard on those in rural communities.
Lastly, this bill maintains 90% of the hospital cuts that were contained in the ACA. Washington State hospitals will continue to be cut by nearly $4 billion over 10 years. While there is a partial restoration of cuts through Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payments, it’s not enough to manage the shift back to emergency-based care — a shift that is being forced by the rest of the bill.
We all want a better, more efficient health care system, but that cannot happen without access to health insurance coverage. Without coverage, there is no access to care, and without access to care, people cannot take control of their health. Insurers and providers cannot move to value-based care when fewer patients are insured. Finally, without ongoing access to care, the reliance on emergency rooms will continue, driving up costs for everyone and leaving our communities sicker than before.
Please do not support this bill. If you have questions about how this bill will affect our community, please contact me or the Washington State Hospital Association, where you can speak with Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Government Affairs Chris Bandoli (firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-216-2506) or Policy Director, Member Advocacy Chelene Whiteaker (email@example.com or 206-216-2545).
Background on the American Health Care Act
On Monday, March 6, House Republican leadership released legislation to repeal and replace major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The major provisions of the legislation follow an earlier version of the Republican leadership plan leaked in February. Read WSHA’s Inside DC newsletter and draft analysis for more information.
Recording of March 9 Keep Covered webcast
In case you weren’t able to join us for our March 9 Keep Covered webcast about the future of the ACA, you can watch the recording here.