repeal and replace

Fight Repeal and Replace (Graham-Cassidy-Heller)! Support CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program)!

Never let your guard down!  An effort to Repeal and Replace [the Affordable Care Act] has reared its ugly head again, threatening to take away healthcare from millions by ending Medicaid expansion (the Healthy Michigan Plan); raising costs for everyone; eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions; cutting coverage for low income seniors, children and the disabled; and attacking women's health and family planning.  

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The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will not have time to fully score this bill before September 30th, 2017, and so there are not as many details about the costs and implications of this bill as there would be otherwise. However, the CBO has rated similar bills, and under those bills, 15 million people would lose Medicaid alone, and 32 million people might lose insurance. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill also privileges rural states over urban/suburban states, and Michigan is a clear loser. Large cuts to funding begin in 2020 but accelerate over time. Follow this twitter thread for a lot of details.

Under this bill, there would be huge premium increases for people with pre-existing conditions

Compare the bill to the ACA using the Kaiser Family Foundation comparisons web site.

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But What About MIChild?

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage to children who do not qualify for Medicaid but whose families cannot otherwise afford health insurance, is also under attack.  In Michigan, CHIP is the MIChild program. CHIP funding is set to expire on September 30, 2017. Although there is, in principle, bipartisan agreement on extending the CHIP program, including MIChild, this agreement is being set aside while the Senate focuses on the Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill.

This piece from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families does a good job explaining the conflict between the two efforts. As Kelly Whitener writes,

For example, it would not be possible to have a good faith negotiation on extending CHIP funding (which covers 9 million children) while there is a live debate on gutting Medicaid (which covers 37 million children). This is not simply a matter of Congress learning to multi-task – you simply cannot work toward two totally different goals simultaneously.

Without CHIP renewal, MIChild will end when the state's reserve runs out (likely, early spring of 2018). This puts the health of over 40,000 of Michigan's children at risk. 

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Essential Health Benefits Under the AHCA (ACA Replacement)

What are Essential Health Benefits (EHB)?

The Affordable Care Act requires non-grandfathered health plans in the individual and small group markets to cover essential health benefits (EHB), which include items and services in the following ten benefit categories: (1) ambulatory patient services; (2) emergency services; (3) hospitalization; (4) maternity and newborn care; (5) mental health and substance use disorder services including behavioral health treatment; (6) prescription drugs; (7) rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices; (8) laboratory services; (9) preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management; and (10) pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
— The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight - https://www.cms.gov/cciio/resources/data-resources/ehb.html

 

Prior to the ACA, health insurance was not required to cover the benefits above.  Health insurance could exclude prescriptions, pediatric services,  hospitalization, maternity and prenatal care and mental health services.  The EHBs are also tied to the limits on consumer spending for these services.  Currently, out of pocket costs for an individual cannot be more than $7,150 and for families the cost cannot be more than $14,300. Under the AHCA, states could apply for waivers and the costs for EHBs would no longer be capped.   

 

Let's compare the benefits in the ACA to the AHCA. 

While it is true that your monthly premium might be less under the AHCA, if you live in a state that gets a waiver, all the EHB may not be included in your health plan. If your health situation changes, you could pay much more for services that are currently included in all health plans.  

An Example

For example, a state could remove coverage for maternity or newborn care from the essential health benefits. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans did not cover maternity care, and pregnant women would have to pay the full cost of prenatal care, labor and delivery. That could happen again. 

In fact, women's healthcare is particularly targeted. Under the AHCA, Planned Parenthood would not be able to get Medicaid reimbursals for pap smears, birth control, or cancer screenings. Since Planned Parenthood is the largest reproductive health care provider in the country, it is likely that removing them as a provider--with or without removing the essential health benefit of contraception--will mean many more unintended pregnancies. For middle-income women, over the income cap for Medicaid, the birth and expenses would not be capped so you could pay $15,000 or more for a birth with complications.

The AHCA--the "replacement" for the ACA--goes next to the U.S. Senate. If you support comprehensive and affordable health care, let your senator know that you oppose the repeal of the ACA. 

Have questions?  Ask them in the comments section and we will do our best to answer. Call 734-544-3030 or Walk-in to the Washtenaw Health Plan office Monday - Friday from 9am - 4pm.   

-Meredith Buhalis and Ruth Kraut

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