Starting in 1965, when Medicare and Medicaid were enacted into law, our nation incrementally bent the arc toward the crowning achievement in health coverage justice: universal health insurance. That progress has been substantial – with enhancements in people gaining coverage occurring throughout the years thereafter, culminating in the historic Affordable Care Act (ACA). But we still have a long way to go.
The demise of the GOP’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act was truly an extraordinary event! For the first time in many years, Republicans controlled all the decision-making levers of the legislative process: the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. They had crusaded for seven years to repeal and replace the ACA and, for an even longer period, were chomping at the bit to reorganize (aka cut funding from) the safety-net Medicaid program. These were unmistakable top priorities for the Republican leadership. Yet they failed
The bill is dead. This battle is over! It’s time to take a deep breath, re-energize, and stay vigilant.
We need to make sure Representatives understand that any future changes to the ACA must keep coverage equally affordable, available to as many people, and protect the Medicaid safety net.
States will be forced to dramatically cut the services Medicaid covers and cut the number of people who qualify for them if Congress makes changes in state Medicaid funding. And the services that states will likely drop first are those on which seniors, people with disabilities, and others with serious health needs rely.
The House Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) goes way beyond repealing the ACA and includes provisions that would radically restructure all of Medicaid, capping and cutting program funding, in addition to repealing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Lawmakers should heed the recent statements by two top industry research and credit ratings agencies—Fitch and Moody’s—warning that changes to Medicaid’s funding structure could destabilize state budgets.