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Together for Medicaid: Senate Should Reject Assault on Medicaid

June 14, 2017

AUGUSTA – With rumors of a looming deal in the United States Senate to pass a revised version of the American Health Care Act, the Together for Medicaid Coalition in Maine asks US Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to do everything they can protect access to health care.

Media reports concerning ongoing negotiations in the US Senate suggest that Medicaid remains a target and millions of Americans would be at-risk of losing health insurance.

“Despite initial reports that the House-version of the AHCA was so unpopular and dangerous that it had little chance to pass in the Senate, we are concerned that the Senate proposal would also drastically undermine Medicaid, causing millions of people to lose health care,” said Ann Woloson of the coalition.

The Together for Medicaid Coalition asks that Sens. Collins and King reject any version of the AHCA that:

 

  • Eliminates the expansion of or the option to expand Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act;
  • Reduces the federal government’s commitment to fund Medicaid;
  • Shifts billions of dollars of costs for health care onto states;
  • Or changes Medicaid to a block grant(s) or per capita cap funding structure, which would limit access to services under program in the future.

 

“We don’t know for certain how the Senate is changing what was proposed in the AHCA, that was initially rejected, but we know that the American people don’t want to kick millions off health care or see insurance rates skyrocket for older people, people with disabilities or people with pre-existing conditions,” Woloson said. “Instead of starting over with a new health care bill, it appears that the Senate could be considering aspects of the disastrous and unpopular AHCA.”

The AHCA cuts $800 billion out of Medicaid, taking health care away from 23 millions of people, including tens of thousands of Mainers

For more than 40 years, Medicaid, a federal-state partnership, has provided 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 were also 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.

 

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

 

  • Rural counties with the largest Medicaid 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, the Maine Council on Aging, Maine Children’s Alliance, New Mainer’s Public Health Initiative, the Consumer Council System of Maine and Maine People’s Resource Center.

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