Passage of AHCA Threatens Hard-won Progress Towards Improving Health
May 04, 2017
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), legislation that would partially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Pennsylvania hospitals oppose the legislation, which would jeopardize coverage for more than 1.1 million Pennsylvanians and undermine critical protections benefiting millions across the Commonwealth.
HAP President and CEO Andy Carter issued a statement following the vote, applauding members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation that voted against the AHCA including all five Democratic members, and Republican Congressmen Ryan Costello (PA-06), Charlie Dent (PA-15), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Pat Meehan (PA-07).
The AHCA threatens hard-won progress towards improving health and will exacerbate financial stress on Pennsylvania’s hospitals by phasing out Medicaid expansion, imposing significant changes to Medicaid financing, offering tax credits that fall short of supporting access to affordable insurance, and retreating on the promise to patients with preexisting conditions.
HAP recently collaborated with 15 other health care organizations in the state to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation outlining their collective concerns with the impact of the AHCA on Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, and urging reform efforts to protect the vulnerable citizens who rely on Medicaid for critical and necessary care.
The AHCA vote comes after weeks of negotiations to amend the bill to garner support from House Republicans. Key changes leading up to the vote by the U.S. House included:
• Allocating $15 billion in additional funding for an “invisible risk sharing program” or reinsurance mechanism to help support high-cost individuals
• Allowing states to seek waivers to opt-out of ACA regulations on essential health benefits, community rating requirements, and how much older Americans are charged for coverage
• Providing $8 billion in funding for states that receive a community rating waiver in order to reduce premiums or out-of-pocket costs for individuals facing a premium increase because of a pre-existing condition
These changes to the legislation have put ACA consumer protections at greater risk and do not provide sufficient financial support to protect individuals with health conditions from steep increases and reduced benefits.
Legislative activity with respect to the ACA will now move to the U.S. Senate although timing of next steps is not clear.
HAP will continue to advocate for policy that preserves the coverage and protections afforded by the ACA which have meant access to care—preventative services, less costly outpatient visits rather than hospitalizations, treatment for behavioral health and substance abuse—and ultimately, better health.
If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Bechtel, HAP’s senior vice president, health economics and policy, or Scott Bishop, HAP’s senior vice president, legislative advocacy.