Multiple reports suggest that any day now the United States Senate will vote on a bill to adopt a budget that begins to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before anything resembling a replacement plan is in place.
In spite of the countless times I’ve heard Donald Trump’s “repeal and replace” soundtrack, the only evidence in the proposed budget is to “repeal” but not "replace."
Doesn’t it seem irresponsible, if not immoral, for U.S. House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan and others to insist that key provisions of the ACA will be retained without providing any evidence to back it up?
As a person with a disability, I have contacted my three Michigan representatives in Congress—Representative Bill Huizenga and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters—urging them not to vote for any budget that leads to repealing the Affordable Care Act that does not also include a specific replacement.
If this is a concern you share, please contact your representatives before this vote takes place.
As the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and other respected disability organizations outline in detail, several key provisions within the Affordable Care Act support the health and well-being of people with disabilities, including:
- Health insurers cannot deny someone health insurance on the basis of a pre-existing condition, including a disability or chronic condition;
- There are no arbitrary financial limits to how much healthcare an individual can receive in a year or in their lifetime;
- More people with disabilities receive supports to live in the community of their choice rather than in an institution;
- Some 20 million adults and children have health insurance through Medicaid expansion and health insurance subsidies;
- The Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program that helps people with disabilities transition from institutions to the community was reauthorized and expanded;
- The Community First Choice option (CFCO) was established, which increased the Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for states that provide new or expanded home and community based services (HCBS);
- The U.S. Access Board was authorized to develop accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment (MDE);
- Millions of adults have been able to stay on the health insurance plan of their parents until age 26; and
- Health insurers provide more people with the services they need, including mental health services and rehabilitation services and devices.
The ACA has improved access to care for people with disabilities and chronic conditions to help them live healthy, independent, and fulfilling lives. Any succeeding plan should as well. To eliminate the ACA or to eliminate the ACA without simultaneously replacing it with an alternative jeopardizes this progress and puts ongoing access to comprehensive, affordable coverage for people with disabilities at risk. Further, to repeal the ACA without a specific replacement plan could lead to higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and leave state governments and providers to cover the cost of care for those who lose coverage.
To learn more, including specifics when contacting your representatives, go to organizations such as the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the National Council on Independent Living, or the AAPD.