The American Health Care Act

As you have been reading and seeing in the news, House Republicans introduced a replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (section by section breakdowns are available from both House committees that have jurisdiction over health care: the House Ways and Means Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee).

Today, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), 95 percent of children in America have health coverage – an historic high. The American Health Care Act threatens progress at a time when we must continue to move forward, not backwards for children.

As you call your Members of Congress, feel free to use this script:

“Hello, I’m [first and last name] from [city, state, and zip]. I’m calling to ask that you vote NO to the proposed American Health Care Act and all other proposed bills that cut key funding for health services for disadvantaged children. Protecting the ACA, particularly Medicaid, is critically important to the millions of low-income and vulnerable children in this country. As you know, children are nearly 50 percent of Medicaid recipients. The proposed per capita caps threaten children’s access to care and may force state governments to cut pediatric benefits, including comprehensive well child visits and other services that are offered in the nation’s 2,315 school-based health centers.”

[Insert more about why protecting ACA and the Medicaid program is important to you. Consider using the talking points below for additional ideas.]

The American Health Care Act as proposed would do harm to children:

  • Changes to Medicaid’s financing structure to pay for massive tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations would end Medicaid’s guarantee of affordable, comprehensive health coverage for poor and low income children and children with disabilities and other special health care needs. The new Medicaid per capita cap would limit access to health coverage for children but not reduce their health needs or costs of care. Over time, it would shift costs from the federal government to states, counties, local communities, providers and beneficiaries. State and local governments would have to cut eligibility, services or both to continue to provide comparable care under the caps to the 37 million children who are currently enrolled in Medicaid. Children are nearly 50 percent of Medicaid recipients; any changes to Medicaid would have a disproportionate impact on the quality comprehensive child specific services and treatment children currently receive under the program.
  • Millions of children, low-income parents and other adults will lose coverage with the repeal of the ACA. The American Health Care Act will end the ACA’s Medicaid expansion over time, despite the fact that 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded coverage to 26 million low-income parents and other adults. The ACA’s more targeted subsidies would be replaced with less affordable tax credits and parents will end up having to pay more for less comprehensive coverage – or go uninsured altogether. Research clearly shows that children are better off when pregnant women have access to prenatal care services that help ensure healthy infants and their parents have health insurance coverage. When parents get treatment for their own health and mental health problems, it strengthens children’s developmental outcomes.
  • Child serving systems, such as Education and Child Welfare, depend on Medicaid to offer critical help and support to children in care but would lose that extra help. Children with disabilities who have Individualized Education Plans that call for special services to be delivered in the schools or children with abuse histories or disabilities that require treatment in foster homes or residential treatment will be at special risk.
  • Access to mental health and substance abuse treatment needed to stem the tide of opioid and other addictions for children, youths and adults would be lost, destroying families and likely sending more children into foster care and homelessness. Changes proposed to both the ACA and Medicaid would limit coverage of these treatments.