As health equity advocates we share a fundamental vision of a nation where every single human being has an equitable chance to enjoy the best health possible, no matter who they are—including where they were born. For us, it is not about being on the left or right of the political spectrum. Equal access to good health is an intrinsically human value.
One of the many must-do items on Congress’s agenda when it returns in September is something that should be easy: extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If Congress doesn’t act to extend CHIP funding, health coverage for 9 million children will be in jeopardy.
What Congress must do to prevent millions of children from losing health coverage is clear: Pass a “clean” funding bill that extends CHIP funding for five years.
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.
Today, an important new phase begins in the seemingly endless debates over U.S. health care. For the first time in many years, a committee of the U.S. Congress – the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, aptly termed the “HELP” Committee—is holding open hearings in a bipartisan quest to find practical solutions that improve Americans’ access to affordable, quality health coverage and care.
Congress is back from summer vacation and has little time to waste on a packed September agenda. Legislative items on its plate this month include: passing a government funding bill and disaster relief; extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), community health centers, and other key health programs; addressing the debt ceiling; and pivoting to tax reform.
Additionally, key Republicans and Democrats have promised to come together to address affordability and stability in the marketplace. It’s going to be a very busy month.
The cuts amount to a 90 percent reduction for marketplace advertisement funding and a 42 percent reduction in funding for Healthcare.gov. Navigator funding alone is being cut from $62.5 million to $36.8 million!
When Congress returns to D.C. from August recess, they will dive right into work that presents both opportunities and threats for health care. As a result, September will be a good time for health care advocates and activists to engage with their elected officials to make sure they protect affordable health care.
Oral health is an important part of overall health for everyone – but it can be crucially important to someone who is fighting a serious condition, such as kidney failure, an autoimmune disease, cancer or a heart problem. Unfortunately, Medicare covers almost no dental/oral health care, and imposes ill-considered restrictions on the limited care it will cover.
At the end of July, health care supporters prevailed over lawmakers who sought to pass destructive legislation that would have stripped millions of people of their health coverage and cut Medicaid for seniors, children, and people with disabilities.
Our country owes much of this victory to advocates and constituents in key states who spent the past eight months organizing to protect our care from this harmful bill. Working with Families USA and other national partners, state consumer health advocates used an array of tactics that made an enormous contribution to the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. Through rallies, town halls, meetings, press and social media engagement, calls and letters to Congress, state-focused policy analysis, and other critical tactics, these state organizations raised public awareness of what was at stake and put pressure on lawmakers to oppose the harmful legislation.
Efforts to shift to a value-based health care system create an opportunity to improve the quality of care and health outcomes, save money for consumers and the health care system as a whole, and drive reductions in health disparities. But such positive outcomes from payment and delivery reform efforts are not guaranteed. There are some elements of this proposed rule that can help reduce health disparities, but a real commitment to health equity requires additional steps from CMS.