Healthcare Reform April 2017: ACA Repeal and Replace Efforts
The leadership of the House of Representatives is continuing to work with conservative and moderate Republicans in an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Their proposal, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), was pulled from consideration a few weeks ago when it could not muster the votes to pass. However, House leaders continue to try to find common ground in order to modify the House leadership bill to make it passable.
The House of Representatives could vote on this bill when it returns on April 24 from the Easter recess. Grassroots outreach and educating Members of Congress about the needs of chronic disease patients continues to influence the overall debate. Please reach out to your House member and ask him or her to protect patients and oppose discriminatory and dangerous provisions.
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The emerging House leadership plan includes a number of provisions that would be devastating for patients with chronic, complex, and costly medical conditions. The bill would remove protections for individuals with pre-existing health conditions and eliminate the ACA's Essential Health Benefits--federal quality standards for health insurance policies. In place of these protections, the bill would expand health savings accounts and tax credits, establish state risk sharing subsidies, and leave it to states to determine which essential health benefits they will offer--likely leading to lower quality benefits for patients with costly diseases.
Patients with costly health conditions could never put enough money in a health savings account, nor take advantage of a tax break associated with not utilizing healthcare services. Further, segregating costly patients into high risk pools has not worked in the past and would jeopardize access for the most vulnerable. Elimination of the federal mandate that insurers offer a minimum level of benefits and allow states the flexibility to decide these benefits would likely mean that many states would have the incentive to not recommend comprehensive benefits to those with pre-existing health conditions. Insurers could also dramatically hike premiums for those with expensive chronic health care needs.
- Secure the contact information for your House Representative by visiting www.House.gov and using the “Find Your Senator/Representative” query tool in the upper right corner.
Call the office and ask for the Health Legislative Assistant. You can either leave a voicemail or request their e-mail address and send them a message; you can use the template below. If you call, you can use this template as a guide in your conversation.
- Politely and occasionally follow up on the request. You should have an expectation that the office will respond to your specific concerns.
- If you would like to do more, you can request a brief meeting with the staff at your members’ local offices (the location information is on their websites).
My name is _________ and I am a constituent from [insert City, State here]. I am also an advocate for the Oley Foundation and for patients who [consider inserting “like me” or “like my child/loved one”] are “fed” intravenously (IV) or through a tube into their stomach or intestine, and who are able to do this while living in their own homes, as part of the community. There are a variety of reasons someone may need IV nutrition or tube feeding; many medical conditions can impair a person’s ability to eat or drink enough to sustain life, grow, and thrive. Both forms of nutrition support are life-saving and life-sustaining medical interventions, however, they can be costly and are not always covered by health insurance.
I write to urge you to maintain stability for chronic disease patients as you and your colleagues consider healthcare reform and changes to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The AHCA in its current form would be devastating for my community.
Segregating high cost patients into high risk programs has not worked in the past, even with a federal subsidy. Additionally, eliminating the federal mandate that insurers offer a minimum level of benefits would likely mean that many states could offer substandard benefits for those with pre-existing health conditions or hike premiums for the most vulnerable Americans in desperate need of essential healthcare.
Please make sure any proposal maintains crucial patient protections that promote access and prevent financial hardships. Specifically, please ensure any future proposal:
- prohibits pre-existing condition discrimination
- maintains essential health benefits
- prohibits lifetime and annual caps on benefits
- allows young adults to stay on family coverage until they are 26
- limits out-of-pocket costs for patients in a meaningful way
[Add a brief paragraph about the medical condition you are concerned about. Tell your story.]
Thank you for your time and consideration of this letter. Please tell me how you have responded to my request.