This is a follow up from our recent action alert about the Senate’s actions on health care. Now is a critical time. On June 22, 2017, Senate Republicans unveiled the Senate substitute to the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BRCA) of 2017. Analysis of the Better Care Reconciliation Act shows that this bill will not improve the U.S. health care system, and instead will eliminate health insurance coverage and access to health services for millions of Americans.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 22 MILLION people will lose coverage as a result of BCRA over the next ten years. Though this bill would reduce the deficit by $321 billion, the reductions are achieved primarily by drastically reducing Medicaid by nearly a trillion dollars over ten years. These changes will significantly limit health care coverage for low-income people, children, pregnant women and individuals with disabilities who depend on the Medicaid program.
Several Republican Senators have voiced concerns about the bill in its current form, and others are undecided. There are likely to be amendments to the bill as well as around the clock negotiations with individual Senators to try to gain support from more Senators. Democratic Senators have voiced their unified opposition to the proposal, yet the bill can pass with just 50 votes from Republican Senators only. A vote may be scheduled immediately following the Independence Day recess-perhaps as early as during the week of July 10th. Time is of the essence. Please utilize every opportunity to make your voice heard including town hall meetings, 4th of July parades as well as contacting your Senators by phone and email.
Capped Funding for Medicaid– The Senate bill cuts billions of dollars from the Medicaid program by converting it to a capped funding model beginning in 2020, giving states limited funds to cover Medicaid beneficiaries. The per-person cap would not adequately cover eligible people in each state, eventually causing a reduction in services and restrictions on eligibility.
State Waivers that Allow Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients– Though the Medicaid program is a key support for people who are currently working, BRCA allows states to institute work requirements in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage for adults who are nonelderly, not disabled or pregnant.
Defunding of Planned Parenthood– The Senate bill eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year, cutting off health care access to women in need of preventive and routine health services.
State Waivers that Make Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Services Optional– The Senate bill allows states to alter Essential Health Benefits and make insurance coverage for behavioral health services optional. This proposal will very likely greatly limit access to supportive services and treatment for individuals with mental illness and opioid and other substance use disorders.
Making Insurance More Expensive for Older Adults – The Senate bill changes the ACA subsidy structure by cutting tax credits for older adults – those between the ages of 55-65 years – and allows insurers to charge older people up to five times more for insurance than younger Americans.
Tax Cuts for Wealthy Americans-The Senate bill uses savings from cuts to the health care of low and middle income Americans to provide significant tax cuts for the rich, insurance companies and corporations.
Take Action and Contact Your Senators Today
Contact your Senators by phone or email and let them know that the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA)-(pronounced Bic-Rah)–does not benefit vulnerable Americans or health care providers. Social workers insist on health care models that provide affordable health insurance coverage to all Americans and social workers reject proposals like BCRA that discriminate against low-income individuals, women, older adults and those with chronic conditions, particularly behavioral health needs.