After only a fleeting lapse of 60 days, House Republicans again are trying to muster sufficient votes to pass a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA-2). We must prevent this from happening. This legislation would have very adverse consequences for the health insurance coverage of persons with mental health and substance use conditions, and for all other disability groups. In a word, it not only would not protect persons who have pre-existing health conditions, it actually would do harm to them.
AHCA-2 is much, much worse than its older sister. As before, it would it rob 24 million Americans of their health insurance and divert $900 billion from Medicaid, the only health insurance program for those who are poor and disabled. However, via the so-called “MacArthur Amendment,” named after the House Freedom Caucus leader who sought more radical changes, it now also would remove three critical pillars of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). States would be permitted to waive requirements for the ACA Essential Health Benefits, community ratings, and age band provisions.
Previously, I have described the dire consequences of removing these three requirements. The effects will be stark and obvious: Health insurance benefits will be much worse, costs will be much higher for those with disabilities and those who are older, and many people simply will become discouraged and drop out of health insurance altogether because they no longer can afford it.
Unfortunately, House Republicans have hearing disabilities themselves. In many, many community meetings over the past two months, their own constituents have warned them loudly and persistently not to destroy our health insurance system. Case after case has been reported in which people’s lives have been saved by the ACA. Yet, House Republicans have continued to forge on earlessly and mindlessly.
We must respond in a very planful and deliberate way. We must contact every House Republican and demand—yes, demand—that they oppose AHCA-2. We also must assert that there will be very negative political consequences in 2018 for anyone who votes for this untoward bill.
Clearly, our nation's moral compass has gone badly awry. Our federal legislative officials are choosing deliberately to make it more difficult and more costly for those with pre-existing conditions, those with disabilities, and those who are older to access necessary health care. Fortunately, we live in a reprersentative republic where we can change those elected officials who do not reflect community values. That opportunity will come in 2018. For now, we must work immediately to defeat AHCA-2.
So, I ask: Will you join us in this Herculean effort? I know that you will because you understand completely what is at stake for you, your family, your community, and for all Americans.