May 8 – Last week, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a very narrow vote of 217-213, which was cast almost entirely on political party lines. This bill cuts directly into our nation’s health care safety net and is particularly harmful for our underserved communities. According to early Congressional Budget office (CBO) estimates, this bill will cause 24 million people to lose health insurance over the next decade; of which 14 million people will lose their insurance in the next year alone. If enacted into law, the bill would result in the most significant restructuring of the Medicaid program since its enactment. These Medicaid “reforms” will lead to $880 billion being cut from the program, while the bill also cuts taxes by a similar $883 billion. ACU supports the position that any changes to the Medicaid program should seek to improve care, not short-term fiscal objectives. Also of grave concern, the AHCA eliminates the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), which provides $1 billion in funding that accounts for one-eighth of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) entire budget. Eliminating the PPHF puts all Americans at greater risk for the spread of disease and infection.
ACU has strongly opposed this proposal since its introduction and is proud of our clinician advocates who sent thousands of messages to their Representatives urging them to vote no. We stand firmly with many of our colleagues at the Partnership for Medicaid against misguided changes to the Medicaid program. And we stand with our friends within the Coalition for Health Funding in opposition to the elimination of the PPHF. As clinicians working to improve the lives of millions in underserved communities, we will continue to be a leading force against this bill as it moves forward in the legislative process. We look forward to educating all Members of Congress on the dire effects this bill will have on our medically vulnerable populations, and how we can work together to improve access to care for those most in need.
There can be little doubt that partisan politics have overshadowed the health care debate since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This instability in Washington DC not only impairs our leaders’ ability to create sound public policy, it undermines our health insurance marketplace and jeopardizes the health and well-being of tens of millions of Americans. Health care is an issue that affects all Americans, on both sides of the aisle. We urge Congress to work together to craft responsible, bipartisan solutions that promote health equity and access to high quality health care for all.
The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved is a transdisciplinary membership organization of clinicians, advocates, and healthcare organizations that provide health care for the underserved. Our programs include professional education, clinical tools, advocacy, patient education, training and technical assistance. For more information, please visit our website at www.clinicians.org.