March 24, 2017 – WASHINGTON, DC — Today the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill that would gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA), dramatically cut Medicaid payments to states, and undermine Medicare. In an attempt to secure additional votes, the bill keeps getting worse for the American public.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in a report issued on March 13th, highlighted the devastating impact of the original AHCA bill, introduced on March 6th. CBO found, among other things, AHCA would lead to 24 million people to be uninsured by 2026, Medicaid cut by $880 billion over the next ten years, and premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase, particularly for older adults and individuals with lower incomes.
Earlier this week, on Monday, March 20th, House leadership made amendments to the bill that made it even worse, including speeding up tax cuts while further diminishing the Medicaid program. Yesterday CBO confirmed that these amendments would lead to essentially the same level of coverage losses (24 million people) and cost increases for individuals and would yield $187 billion less in savings than the original bill.
In addition, on Wednesday, Senator Wyden and Congressman Pallone revealed that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' independent Actuary “estimated that the repeal of the tax on prescription medications, known as the ‘pharma fee,’ beginning January 1, 2017 would increase aggregate Medicare Part B premiums by $8.7 billion through fiscal year 2027.”
Yesterday, in yet another attempt to gain votes, House Leadership and the Trump Administration have amended the bill yet again, this time stripping the requirement that insurance companies cover essential health benefits (EHB). This amendment would effectively eliminate annual out-of-pocket caps, reinstate annual and lifetime coverage limits, and gut protections for pre-existing conditions. In addition, the newest amendments would delay – but not remove – the Medicare payroll tax cut that will undermine Medicare’s financing and future.
“The American Health Care Act is not American in spirit or health care in substance. In fact, it's a tax cut bill for the wealthy, not a health care bill for the people. It will make America sicker. Congress should reject this charade and this disaster of a bill today," states Judith Stein, Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.