Senate Health Bill Old Wine, New Bottle Betrays West Virginians

For Immediate Releas

 

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Contact: Caitlin Cook, 304.720.8682

 - West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Executive Director Ted Boettner issued this statement in response to the latest Senate health bill:

Senate Republican leaders have released a "new" version of their health bill that fixes none of the original Senate bill's core problems for West Virginia and makes some of them worse. PDF news release.

 

The Senate bill ends the Medicaid expansion, under which 168,206 of West Virginians have gained coverage. lt drastically cuts and caps the entire Medicaid program - putting coverage at risk for 539,000 of West Virginians, largely people with disabilities, seniors, and families with children. In fact, because its cap is harsher, the Senate draft's overall cuts to Medicaid are even deeper than the House bill's 24 percent federal funding cut over the long run.

 

 

It would raise premiums and deductibles for millions of Americans who buy coverage in the individual marketplace by slashing tax credits and eliminating cost-sharing assistance, especially for older people and people in high-cost states. It also would gut consumer protections, leaving people with pre-existing conditions without access to needed health care.

While we don't yet have a CBO score, we know enough about the Senate bill's cuts to Medicaid and to marketplace financial assistance to know that it will cause many millions of Americans to lose health insurance.
We also know why the Senate bill makes these cuts:to give $400 billion in tax cuts to the wealthy, and drug companies, insurers and other corporations.
The changes Senate Republican leaders made to the bill don't solve these problems, and in some cases make them worse. They are touting additional "stability" funds for states. But the funds are woefully inadequate, poorly designed and will do little to improve health insurance for low-income people losing Medicaid coverage as a result of the bill or for moderate-income people hurt by the bill's marketplace subsidy cuts.  In addition, these funds are already spoken for: if they aren't used mostly for reinsurance, the bill's increases in sticker price premiums would be even larger.

 

They are also touting additional funding for opioid treatment. But it provides far less than experts estimate we need. And, more importantly, it would be greatly outweighed by the bill's deep Medicaid cuts and other fundamental changes to the ACA that would cost millions of people their health care coverage, leaving many opioid sufferers without the care they need to recover.

 

The bill's "Cruz Amendment" would eviscerate protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which the original version of the Senate bill would already drastically weaken.

 

Now Senate Republicans are trying to rush this bill through next week with no time for Senator Capito or the public to understand what's in it and how it will affect West Virginians. And just like in the House, they are likely to make more minor changes right before they vote and claim to have solved major problems with the bill. But we won't be fooled.

Senator Capito opposed the original Senate bill and none of its flaws regarding Medicaid and funding for battle the opioid crisis have been fixed.
Senator Capito must reject this bill and pursue a bipartisan approach that leaves Medicaid alone and addresses our real needs: stabilizing the marketplace and improving affordability.
And, Senator Capito must reject any bill that causes large coverage losses, ends the Medicaid expansion, caps and cuts the Medicaid program, or guts critical protections for people with health conditions.
Anything less would be breaking her promise to the people of our state.

 

 

 


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