Happy 2018! We took a break over the holidays to restore ourselves and connect with family and community and hope you did, too. Health care advocates deserved time to celebrate and reflect after achieving monumental success in preventing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and drastic cuts to Medicaid in 2017.
In the 2017 elections, Maine voters took control at the ballot box to expand health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. The decisive win--with nearly 60 percent of the vote-- shows the popular support for Medicaid expansion in Maine, where the governor has vetoed the state legislature's repeated efforts to expand coverage.
The lesson of the campaign will be shared in the coming year with other states like Utah and Idaho, where ballot initiatives give voters a chance to move Medicaid expansion efforts ahead after years of stalling by conservative policymakers.
Mostly by granting huge tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations, the new tax bill would increase the federal deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
If a tax bill that explodes the deficit becomes law, it will set the stage for massive cuts to health programs like Medicaid, marketplace financial assistance, and Medicare. Health care consumers and their advocates thus need to pay careful attention to the tax debate.
Today’s headlines were about Congress turning its attention to tax reform, but there’s still some critical health care business to take care of. Congress needs to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Community Health Center Fund (CHCF) and do it ASAP, before both lapse on September 30th. The health and health care of millions depend on it.
Getting this done should not be hard. Both the CHIP program and community health centers have enjoyed strong bipartisan support, and with good reason. Both make our health system better.
A growing number of states are using the waiver process to make fundamental changes to the Medicaid program. Many of these waivers set a dangerous precedent for the Medicaid program and affect the entire country, as other states seek to follow along adding features to their Medicaid programs that hurt the ability of people with low incomes to get the care they need.
We are facing an extraordinary volume of potentially harmful Medicaid waivers that are under review at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While comment periods seemingly just closed for a slew of states (Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Iowa), two radical Section 1115 adult coverage waivers have now opened for federal comments: Maine and Utah.
Congress has left D.C. for the summer without passing legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or cut Medicaid. Leadership and rank-and-file representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle appear to be looking past the repeal fight that has embattled Congress for the past year and looking ahead toward efforts to stabilize the insurance market. Are these overtures of bipartisanship to be believed? Are the ACA and Medicaid finally safe? As always, it’s complicated.
We always believed in our hearts that it would not be possible for Congress to pass repeal—that we could stop these harmful efforts because too many people rely on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid for it to be so easy to rip coverage away through a sweeping piece of legislation.
While states are balancing their budgets and beginning a new fiscal year on July 1, credit rating agencies are warning that the new health care repeal plan could put a dent in future credit ratings for state bonds, making it harder for states to routinely borrow the money they need for education, transportation and other vital state priorities.
Reuters reported that both Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Rating, leading industry research and credit rating agencies, said the Senate bill, if passed, would be a “credit negative for states” and “cause states to face downward pressure on their credit ratings.”
The postponed vote is proof of the power and impact of people around the country raising their voices and contacting their lawmakers about the harm this bill would cause.Your calls, letters, demonstrations, and story-telling are working!
This fight is not over. When Congress returns on July 10 from the July 4 recess, the Senate could quickly take up and pass a revised bill.
If Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act and cuts Medicaid, millions of people will lose their health coverage. Celeste from National City, Michigan, and her husband are two of them. She shared her health care story with us.