Update from May 5, 2017:
Yesterday, the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The House narrowly passed the measure with a vote of 217-213. Indiana Senate Democrats held a press conference on March 23, 2017, when the original proposal for the AHCA was presented. Senate Democrats highlighted concerns with the AHCA in March when the Indiana General Assembly was still in session, and noted the AHCA could have dire effects for Hoosiers with health insurance through HIP 2.0. The issues raised in this post all still hold true. Furthermore, amendments added to the AHCA would cause even more Hoosiers, including those on employer-sponsored health insurance plans, to lose health benefits. The AHCA now also:
- Risks coverage for those with pre-existing conditions
- Removes certain essential health insurance benefits
- Removes prohibitions on lifetime limits on health insurance spending
The new language in the AHCA received even less time to be vetted than the previous version. There were no committee hearings and no meetings were held to discuss the new language.The Congressional Budget Office was not given time to thoroughly research the bill or produce a detailed report of its effects on the states and their citizens’ health care coverage.
The AHCA must still be approved by the U.S. Senate, so your Indiana Senate Democrats urge Hoosiers to contact their United States Senators to ask them to oppose the AHCA until it can be properly researched and debated.
Post from March 23, 2017:
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, and the full implementation of the law in 2014, health insurance has become more accessible for Hoosiers. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to access insurance coverage through their employer, through Medicaid expansion, through or the healthcare exchanges established by the ACA. In fact, Indiana’s uninsured rate has dropped 30% since the full implementation of the ACA and Indiana’s Medicaid expansion. Now, these achievements in healthcare access seem to be under threat in the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The AHCA, currently under consideration in the United States Congress, makes radical and possibly catastrophic changes to healthcare access for people across the country. Once passed by the House, the bill will be sent to the United States Senate. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, responsible for evaluating every bill introduced in Congress, has evaluated the current bill and revealed that 24 million people currently insured would lose their coverage. This plan also shifts $370 billion in healthcare coverage costs to individual states over a ten-year period, funds currently covered by the federal government.
Hoosiers are not immune to this disruption. An estimated 471,000 children, adults, and seniors in Indiana are at risk of losing insurance coverage by 2026. Those not losing coverage outright through the AHCA, may not be able to afford insurance coverage. Currently, the ACA provides subsidies based on income so those who are uninsured can pay for insurance premiums. The new scheme devised under the AHCA will remove these subsidies and award tax credits based on age. In many cases, the tax credits do not reduce overall premiums as compared to the ACA.
Many members of Indiana’s Congressional Delegation as well as Governor Holcomb, have indicated support for the AHCA. However, at this time, no state-level officials have devised a plan to address the potential financial hit to the state or how to address the fact that nearly half-a-million Hoosiers will lose the health insurance coverage they currently have. When the ACA was being created by Congress in 2009 there were 79 congressional hearings over eight months, where 121 amendments were made to the bill. Currently, the architects of the AHCA have spent only three weeks presenting the bill to Congress.
On March 23, 2017, members of the Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference to put a spot light on the lack of planning by state leaders as the AHCA moves to passage by Congress. The members also discussed policy ideas that may eliminate the so-called trigger language in HIP 2.0 and protect health insurance for the most vulnerable Hoosiers.
Watch video of the press conference below: