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CBO Score: AHCA Slashes Insurance Rolls by 23 Million People

May 24, 2017

AUGUSTA – The Congressional Budget Office today released its analysis of the American Health Care Act.

According to the report, more than 14 million fewer people will have health insurance coverage in 2018, with the number exploding to 23 million fewer people with health insurance coverage in 2026.

“The US House of Representatives rushed a deeply flawed bill through without waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to determine its impact. Now we know how devastating the bill is,” said Robyn Merrill, executive director for Maine Equal Justice Partners. “Fourteen million fewer people would have insurance next year under the AHCA, and the number swells to 23 million by 2026. There is no way that the US Senate can fix this terrible legislation. It’s our hope that the Senate will protect health care for millions of people by rejecting the draconian cuts to Medicaid in the AHCA and in the president’s budget.”

AHCA would cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid, which is critical to providing health care coverage to older Mainers, children and people with disability.

Medicaid, a federal-state partnership, provides quality health care to low-income families. About 263,000 Mainers count on Medicaid for care.

In addition to cuts, changes in the funding mechanism for Medicaid are also being considered as part of the American Health Care Act. These funding schemes, including block granting funds and per-capita caps, would end the federal commitment to pay for care each person needs, ratcheting down overall funding and shifting costs to states and individuals.

Older Mainers, people with disabilities, children and people living in rural Maine stand to lose the most under these proposals.

Maine is the oldest state in the nation and the percentage of people with disabilities is also 30 percent higher than the national average. Any reduction in federal Medicaid funds would have a devastating impact on older Mainers and people with disabilities. It would cause thousands to lose care and threaten the well-being of Maine’s most vulnerable residents.

  • Nearly 50,000 low-income older Mainers receive health care through Medicaid as well 63,000 Maine people with disabilities.
  • Two out of three nursing home residents are enrolled in Medicaid. The single largest expenditure for Medicaid is residential services, which includes nursing home and assisted living facilities.
  • Maine has a chronic shortage of direct care workers for both older Mainers and persons with serious mental health or other disabilities, meaning that fewer services are delivered than are needed. Federal cuts would jeopardize this already too-small workforce.

MaineCare and its companion program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), provide coverage to more than 130,000 Maine children.

  • The percentage of Maine children with insurance has increased by nearly 50% over the last two decades, thanks to Medicaid and the related SCHIP. 6 in 10 Maine newborns get a strong start during their critical first year of life because they receive care through MaineCare.
  • Research shows that there is an important link between parent and child health care coverage. When parents lose coverage, their children tend to go without coverage, even if they are eligible for coverage through programs such as Medicaid.

Maine’s rural counties have the highest percentages of residents who rely on MaineCare for their health care — any federal cuts will disproportionately impact these counties.

  • Rural counties with the largest MaineCare populations are projected to be among those with the greatest growth of seniors 65 and older. Federal cuts from block grants or per-capita caps would grow just as Maine’s population is aging creating a two-fold blow to rural Maine.
  • Maine’s rural hospitals are economic drivers in their communities but they’re already in trouble and federal cuts would put them in serious jeopardy. With fewer people covered and cuts in services and provider rates, more people will seek care in hospital emergency rooms. Uncompensated care costs will go up. Hospitals may be forced to close. Medical services will leave Maine’s rural communities.

The Together for Medicaid is a collaborative effort by organizations from across the state that have joined together in opposition to significant changes to Medicaid’s financing structure that would undermine the program.

The TFM leadership team includes Maine Equal Justice Partners, Consumers for Affordable Health Care, Maine People’s Resource Center, the Maine Council on Aging, Maine Children’s Alliance, New Mainer’s Public Health Initiative and the Consumer Council System of Maine.

For more information, visit: http://togetherformedicaid.com.