Colorful Commentary

Federal Budget Watch, April 26

Posted April 26, 2017 by Samantha Curran
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binoculars-954021_1280Our friends at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities sent us this urgent missive this afternoon. Please take note and contact your members of Congress:

We could see a vote on a modified health care proposal in the House as early as this Friday!

The proposal has just won the support of the conservative House Republican Freedom Caucus — which heightens the chances significantly that the bill could pass.

Over the recess, the leader of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Meadows, negotiated a provision to add to the original House AHCA bill with Rep. MacArthur, one of the leaders of the moderate Republican “Tuesday Group.” The change is portrayed as protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, but in fact, it makes it more likely that millions of Americans will see their premiums rise and/or lose access to their health coverage.

The modification would:

  • Roll back key pre-existing conditions protections: just like before the ACA, discrimination based on pre-existing conditions would be allowed except in states that chose to prohibit it.
  • Roll back nationwide standards that require plans to cover services like mental health and substance use treatment and maternity care, and that prohibit lifetime and annual limits.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a great paper explaining how these provisions would make the AHCA even worse. Read it here:

While the agreement was portrayed as a “deal” between moderate and conservative Republicans in the House, it turns out this change was nothing more than an agreement between Reps. Meadows and MacArthur. Unfortunately, that has now changed with the endorsement of the Freedom Caucus (which only serves to underscore concerns about the impact of the change).

Unless moderate Republicans oppose the measure, it will pass and go to the Senate which would then come under intense pressure to act. There are still very strong reasons for moderate Republicans to oppose this modified AHCA bill. This group has indicated consistently that they are worried about protecting the Medicaid expansion in their states, and about protecting coverage for Essential Health Benefits and pre-existing conditions. Yet the modified AHCA bill retains the elimination of the Medicaid expansion – and effectively the end of Medicaid as we know it (the per capita cap/the $880 billion cut), and only further weakens these critical consumer protections.

Specifically, the bill:

  • Still causes 24 million people to lose coverage: 1 in 10 non-elderly people who would otherwise have insurance would lose it.
  • Still effectively ends the ACA Medicaid expansion.
  • Still cuts $840 billion from Medicaid over 10 years, with most of the savings going to wealthy people and insurance, pharmaceutical, and other corporations.
  • Still increases premiums and deductibles for marketplace consumers, with total out-of-pocket costs increasing by an average of $3,600 – and far more for older people, lower-income people, and people in high-cost states.

In short, for moderate Republicans who had announced their opposition, there’s no reason for them to change their position. For those moderates who had not yet indicated their position, there is no excuse to support this bill given the harm it would do.

Considering these developments, we hope you will move quickly in the next 24-48 hours to ensure that Colorado’s House Republicans and Senators know that the modified AHCA bill would have tremendously harmful impacts on Colorado.

It is important to place a lot of pressure on Rep. Mike Coffman, who is currently undecided. Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) can be contacted at: 720-748-7514 or through Email here.

Below are some messaging points to follow when contacting Representatives and Senators:

The modified Republican plan will make the underlying AHCA bill even worse. It is no compromise and it is certainly not a “deal” to the millions of Americans whose coverage will be impacted negatively:

  • People could be charged more if they had a pre-existing condition, putting affordable insurance out of reach for millions of Americans
  • Plans would no longer be required to cover services like mental health and substance use treatment, or maternity care – effectively allowing women to be charged more than men
  • People could again be subject to lifetime and annual limits on the coverage they get – meaning a medical catastrophe could once again mean bankruptcy

In short, ask Colorado members to commit to opposing any bill or provision that causes millions of people to lose coverage, ends the ACA Medicaid expansion, shifts hundreds of billions of Medicaid costs to states, or makes individual market coverage less affordable.

Contact info for Colorado congressional delegation:

Sen. Cory Gardner – 303-391-5777  Email here.

Sen. Michael Bennet – 303-455-7600 / 866-455-9866 Email here.

Rep. Diana DeGette (CO District 1) –  303-844-4988 Email here.

Rep. Jared Polis (CO District 2) – 303-484-9596  Email here.

Rep. Scott Tipton (CO District 3) – 970-241-2499 Email here.

Rep. Ken Buck (CO District 4) – 970-702-2136   Email here.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO District 5) – 719-520-0055   Email here.

Rep. Mike Coffman (CO District 6) – 720-748-7514  Email here.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter  (CO District 7) – 303-274-7944 Email here.

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