GOP PLAN TO REPLACE THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IS OPPOSED BY DISABILITY ADVOCATES

Earlier this week Republican leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives revealed their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act , commonly known as “Obamacare.”  Under this Republican plan,  new limits would be placed on federal Medicaid spending.  Rather than provide matching grants to states to cover anyone who meets eligibility requirements, the federal government would impose what’s known as a per capita cap, providing a fixed amount of money for each beneficiary based on spending in 2016.  According to disabilities advocates, this Republican proposal would “fundamentally alter Medicaid, threatening access to community-based services for people with developmental disabilities.”

According to Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, “The legislation revealed by House Republicans … is a giant step backwards in the treatment and care of individuals with disabilities. It caps Medicaid funding which means a sharp reduction in services and availability of this important health care lifeline for children and adults with disabilities. In short, this plan is terrible.”

Nicole Jorwic, director of rights policy at The Arc, expressed similar concerns. “Let there be no doubt about it — caps mean cuts. This will lead to cuts in services and longer waiting lists. Every service will be at stake if this bill passes. States will have to make decisions about access and what services are provided based on their bottom lines, not what they need to do to meet the needs of their residents.”

While it is still uncertain exactly how much money the federal government would provide states for Medicaid under the new plan, an estimate from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests that a per capita cap would mean $116 billion less in federal funding for Medicaid over 10 years, with states left to make up the difference.

Under the republican proposal people with developmental disabilities could lose home and community-based services and coverage of mental health, personal care, rehabilitative services, prescription drugs, respite care and other benefits could be reduced or eliminated.  In addition, the proposed legislation also calls for an end to Medicaid expansion, which advocates say has helped people with disabilities, their families and direct support providers access health care.

Disability advocacy groups are “rallying their troops” to oppose the measure by encouraging families to talk to their state and federal lawmakers about how Medicaid affects people with developmental disabilities on a personal level. Nearly 1,000 people from across the country participated in an emergency call this week to discuss next steps.

Source for the article: “GOP Plan To Replace Obamacare Calls For Medicaid Caps” by Michelle Diament, March 9, 2017, Disability Scoop.