The recent headlines surrounding the Congressional Budget Office’s report on the American Health Care Act all have one thing in common: They reveal the devastating truth about the Republican health care plan. This bill is a not-so-subtle effort to strip health care coverage and other safety net programs from people who need it most — low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
The latest version of bill would be disastrous for the tens of millions of families, children, seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid. Millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions — such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease — would end up paying much higher premiums for skimpier health coverage. And don’t forget the 51 million people the CBO estimates would lose coverage entirely by 2026.
For Nevadans, the House-passed bill tells the same, dismal story: less coverage, worse coverage and soaring out-of-pocket costs. In a state where Medicaid is the primary health care provider, the bill’s plan to slash Medicaid funding by $834 billion would devastate everyday Nevadans. And that’s not even counting the $600 billion in Medicaid cuts outlined in the White House budget.
The numbers say it all: The CBO projects that 138,100 Nevadans would lose health insurance coverage by 2026 — including 81,100 Nevadans who rely on Medicaid (more than 65 percent of them are children). The plan would also shift $5 billion in costs onto our already tight state budget, forcing state leaders to make tough choices between providing coverage for our most vulnerable citizens or funding schools, roads and public safety programs.
Not only do millions of Nevadans count on Medicaid to stay afloat, but our local government does as well. Gov. Brian Sandoval recently proposed deep cuts of $20 million to our state’s mental health budget, arguing that Medicaid expansion program would absorb the costs of caring for Nevadans with mental health issues. But under the GOP health plan, funding for the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which opened up coverage to an additional 300,000 Nevadans, would quickly dry up and states would be allowed to freeze enrollment entirely by 2020. Nevada is counting on this money, but lawmakers in Washington would rather use it to fund a massive tax break for their wealthiest friends.
No matter how you slice it, any version of this plan — a bill that would decimate Medicaid as we know it, end the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid coverage, and allow states to exempt insurers from providing key health benefits and protections — is devastating.
We are counting on Sens. Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto to see this bill for what it really is: a shameful attack on the most vulnerable Americans.
Amanda Khan is the economic justice organizer for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.