December 21, 2016

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Democratic Governors To Congressional Leaders: Health Care Repeal Plan Would ‘Throw Millions of Our Residents’ Off Coverage

Democratic Governors To Congressional Leaders: Health Care Repeal Plan Would ‘Throw Millions of Our Residents’ Off Coverage 

DGA Leaders: Congressional repeal ‘would be a financial and health disaster for states’ 

Letter to Congressional leadership poses 6 specific questions how ACA repeal will impact states 

In a letter addressed to Congressional leadership, Democratic governors voiced their opposition to repealing the Affordable Care Act, highlighting the impact that dismantling the law would have on their states.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including its Medicaid expansion, would be a financial and health disaster for states,” DGA Chair Gov. Dan Malloy (D-CT), DGA Chair-Elect Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and DGA Policy Chair Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) wrote in a joint letter sent from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA). “Repeal would throw millions of our residents off their health coverage, shift enormous costs to state governments – blowing a hole in state budgets – and cause economic uncertainty for our states’ businesses, hospitals, and patients. This plan appears to be nothing more than a Washington, D.C. bait-and-switch that puts an untenable burden on the states.”

The letter comes as Congressional Republicans have made repealing the ACA plans a top priority in the coming year – despite have no viable replacement. Some 31 states governed by Democrats and Republicans alike have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, offering high-quality, affordable healthcare to millions of Americans.

In the letter, Govs. Malloy, Inslee and Cuomo call on Congress to answer 6 specific questions about how their plan will affect the millions of Americans covered by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion programs.

Read the full text of the letter below:

December 21, 2016

The Honorable Paul Ryan            

Speaker 

U.S. House of Representatives 

Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Majority Leader

U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:

On behalf of Democratic governors who serve 125 million Americans, we write to express our opposition to your plan to repeal the progress made over the past six years to deliver affordable, high quality health care to 30 million Americans.  

Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including its Medicaid expansion, would be a financial and health disaster for states. Repeal would throw millions of our residents off their health coverage, shift enormous costs to state governments – blowing a hole in state budgets – and cause economic uncertainty for our states’ businesses, hospitals, and patients. This plan appears to be nothing more than a Washington, D.C. bait-and-switch that puts an untenable burden on the states; the American public has yet to see any alternative that retains coverage and financial protections for the millions of consumers currently benefitting from the ACA.

Under the ACA, Americans with preexisting conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease cannot be denied care – whether through caps on coverage, benefit exclusions or outright denial of insurance coverage, and women cannot be denied coverage and charged higher premiums just because of their gender. These gains would disappear under your plan, throwing millions of families into financial and medical crises.  

Repealing the ACA would repeal Medicaid expansion in 60 percent of states, and eliminate the tax credits that help people afford coverage in the private insurance marketplace – causing 30 million people to lose their health coverage in 2019, according to the Urban Institute.  Your plan would send us back to a time when those who were sick were left uninsured or relegated to state high-risk pools with exorbitant premiums, inadequate coverage, and waiting lists.  

In 31 states governed by both Democrats and Republicans – including Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s home state of Indiana – the expansion of Medicaid has provided comprehensive insurance coverage for millions who were previously excluded from the market. Medicaid provides life-saving health care treatments to millions of Americans, and is a critical tool to combatting the opioid abuse epidemic that is ravaging much of our nation. In Pennsylvania, 63,000 residents have received addiction treatment under Medicaid expansion. The non-partisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called Medicaid “states’ most powerful tool to combat the opioid crisis.” Nearly a third of those covered under the Medicaid expansion have a mental health or substance abuse disorder.  The ACA has brought critical treatment options to those who previously had no hope.

Repealing the ACA would also stick states with an enormous bill for uncompensated care – costing states $68.5 billion over the next decade. It is not just Democratic governors who are concerned about Congress acting recklessly and forcing the burden of health care costs onto the states. The Associated Press reported that “Republican states that expanded Medicaid want it kept.” 

We have heard for six years now that you have a better option for federal health care policy, but we have not seen one. What Americans need to know now, before you move forward with repealing the ACA’s protections, is precisely how your plan would affect them:

1. Most of our states now have record low levels of uninsured individuals. Will you guarantee that not a single one of our residents loses their coverage?  

2. What level of financial support will be available to individuals to purchase quality affordable health care coverage for themselves and their families? 

3. What is your plan for ensuring comprehensive coverage, and what level of benefits will be available to individuals seeking coverage? 

4. How much would a middle-class family have to pay in out-of-pocket costs under your plan?  Would you allow insurers to cap the amount of yearly and lifetime assistance those with insurance are able to receive?

5. What is your plan for mental health and substance abuse treatment coverage and costs? Will the millions of Americans who find they have treatment for opioid addiction for the first time be able to retain that vital assistance?

6. What is your plan for ensuring costs are not simply shifted to states, localities, providers, and patients? 

America’s Democratic governors strongly urge Congress to reconsider its plan to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Repeal of the current law would deprive millions of health coverage, raise taxes on Americans by eliminating the help they receive to pay premiums, and undermine the private health insurance market.  

Democratic governors urge Congress, rather than dismantling a structure that is serving the vast majority of our residents well, to instead work with governors to advance the progress made in expanding access to high-quality health care and improving health outcomes for millions of our citizens.    

Sincerely,

Governor Dan Malloy

Chair, DGA

State of Connecticut

Governor Jay Inslee

Chair-elect, DGA

State of Washington

Governor Andrew Cuomo

Policy Chair, DGA

State of New York

CC:

The Honorable Charles Schumer, U.S. Senate Minority Leader

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader

The Honorable Orrin Hatch, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance

The Honorable Ron Wyden, Senate Committee on Finance

The Honorable Lamar Alexander, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

The Honorable Patty Murray, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions

The Honorable Kevin Brady, Chairman, House Committee on Ways & Means

The Honorable Richard Neal, House Committee on Ways & Means

The Honorable Virginia Foxx, Chair-Elect, House Committee on Education & the Workforce

The Honorable Bobby Scott, House Committee on Education & the Workforce

The Honorable Greg Walden, Chair-Elect, House Committee on Energy & Commerce 

The Honorable Frank Pallone, House Committee on Energy & Commerce

[i] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. New Report Details Impact of the Affordable Care ActHHS.gov. 13 Dec. 2016. Web. <https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/12/13/new-report-details-impact-affordable-care-act.html>.

[ii] Blumberg, Linda J., Matthew Buettgens, and John Holahan. Implications of Partial Repeal of the ACA through Reconciliation. Urban Institute, 8 Dec. 2016. Web. <http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/86236/2001013-the-implications-of-partial-repeal-of-the-aca-through-reconciliation_0.pdf>.

[iii] Murakami, Kery. “Obamacare Repeal Could Force Tough Decisions on States.” News and Tribune, 09 Dec. 2016. Web. <http://www.newsandtribune.com/news/obamacare-repeal-could-force-tough-decisions-on-states/article_4a8b6000-be23-11e6-b6e5-3738669a183e.html>.

[iv] Bachrach, Deborah, Patricia Boozang, and Mindy Lipson. Medicaid: States’ Most Powerful Tool to Combat the Opioid Crisis. Issue brief. State Health Reform Assistance Network, July 2016. Web. <http://statenetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/State-Network-Manatt-Medicaid-States-Most-Powerful-Tool-to-Combat-the-Opioid-Crisis-July-2016.pdf>.

[v] U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. New Report Details Impact of the Affordable Care ActHHS.gov. 13 Dec. 2016. Web. <https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/12/13/new-report-details-impact-affordable-care-act.html>.

[vi] Buettgens, Matthew, Linda J. Blumberg, John Holahan, and Siyabonga Ndwandwe. The Cost of ACA Repeal. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Urban Institute, June 2016. Web. <http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2016/rwjf429806>.

[vii] Christie, Bob. “Republican States That Expanded Medicaid Want It Kept.” Associated Press, 27 Nov. 2016. Reprinted in Washington Post. Web. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/republican-states-that-expanded-medicaid-want-it-kept/2016/11/27/cf61381a-b4d0-11e6-939c-91749443c5e5_story.html?utm_term=.02266415772c>.

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