Contact information: Sarah de Guia, (916) 205-0860
Christina Ricci, 510-402-8757
CA GOP Vote in Support of Bill that will Strip Care from Millions Including Hundreds of Thousands of Individuals in their Districts
(Oakland) – The California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) condemns today’s vote in the U.S. House of Representatives that would result in more than 24 million Americans losing their health care coverage. The Republican’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) includes new provisions that threaten people with pre-existing conditions despite promises made by the Trump Administration to leave these important protections in place.
California GOP Representatives including Denham, Valadao, Knight, Cook, Issa, Nunes, Walters, McClintock and McCarthy are among those who voted Yes on a bill that will cause premiums to soar and make our communities less healthy. In the districts of Representatives David Valadao (R-Hanford), Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and Steve Knight (R-Lancaster), 111,000, 109,000 and 76,000 Californians respectively, are at risk of losing coverage because of this legislation.
They excuse this bill by saying people with pre-existing conditions will be protected by special high risk pools. In California, 24% or 5.8 million individuals had pre-existing conditions under pre-ACA practices. Experts on both sides of the aisle have warned that high-risk pools lead to higher costs, fewer benefits, waiting lists and rationed care. In fact, California’s high-risk pool was a disaster for the state, covering just 13,000 individuals. The program was unaffordable. Benefits were capped at just $75,000 a year or $750,000 over a lifetime, lower than the limits of any other state’s pool. An individual with a chronic condition could easily exceed that with just one hospitalization!
“Make no mistake about it, actions have consequences and the consequences today are clear, people will die because of this provision,” said CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia. “California has covered more than 5 million people, and closed the coverage gap for many families and individuals who had been locked out of the health insurance market. The AHCA and new amendments make a bad bill worse by gutting important consumer protections for Californians with pre-existing conditions. Today’s irresponsible action puts California’s progress and prosperity and the health of individuals at enormous risk,” de Guia warns.
The AHCA proposal also includes a massive $800 billion cut to the Medicaid program which covers more than half of residents in California’s rural counties including GOP Leader McCarthy’s own district. “The bill provides tax breaks to the wealthy by devastating health coverage for low and middle class Americans,” de Guia says. The AHCA repeals taxes on people with incomes above $200,000, drug companies, health insurers, and other parts of the health care industry all of which are necessary to help pay for care. “To be clear, the bill is a massive tax cut disguised as a health plan,” de Guia says.
The impact of the Republican’s health plan will be devastating for Californians as it would:
- Remove standardized health care coverage including maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health care and dental benefits for children (called Essential Health Benefits).
- Let insurers charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions making coverage unaffordable for older, sicker individuals or people with many other conditions such as breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many others.
- Severely defund coverage for the 14 million Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, with up to $45 billion dollars, putting coverage at risk for seniors, children and persons with disabilities. These severe cuts will make it harder for California to provide adequate funding for dental, mental health care and addiction services and coverage for certain immigrant populations.
- Effectively end the Medi-Cal expansion, including mental health and dental benefits, for close to 3 million working age adults.
- Eliminate $300 million in funding for California to pay for preventive services including vaccinations, health and wellness programs.
- Take money away from Medicare which covers 5 million California seniors, leaving the program insolvent.
The bill will make its way to the U.S. Senate after tomorrow’s vote, where several Senators have raised concerns about the impacts of the bill. When that happens we must let our Senators know that the bill as it stands is not acceptable.
“The fate of health care coverage for millions of Californians will now be up to the Senate. The Affordable Care Act helped remove the barriers to health in communities of color and allowed millions of Californians to create healthier lives and contribute to the prosperity of the state,” de Guia says. “Rolling back and repealing the Affordable Care Acts threatens the health of our families and the stability of our communities.”