Advocates: Disabled take huge hit under GOP health reform

Advocates for the disabled say the House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act seriously threatens some of the most vulnerable Americans.

The website DisabilityScoop reports that advocates say the bill threatens home- and community-based services and other supports that people with developmental disabilities rely upon.

Photo: Joshua Zader/Creative Commons

“The American Health Care Act shows callous and dangerous disregard for the well-being of people with disabilities and their families and erases decades of progress,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, an organization that service people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

The House passed the bill 217 to 213, allowing President Donald Trump and Republicans to do a victory lap that they had finally succeeded in destroying Obamacare. The measure though was roundly criticized by doctors, hospital and senior groups. It must still pass the U.S. Senate, which gave it a lukewarm response and promised to address its more draconian measures.

While the disabled take a hit, the most wealthiest Americans are big winners with the new legislation as it delivers a big tax cut the would redistribute billions of dollars to the upper tier.

 

How does it hurt the disabled? The many groups who represent them say the bill would institute a per capita cap for Medicaid. This means the federal government would offer a fixed amount of money for each beneficiary.

“These huge cuts and caps will likely put pressure on states to cut home- and community-based waiver services, especially those that are ‘optional,’ like personal care services and therapies,” said Kim Musheno, chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a coalition of disability advocacy groups.

Schools also would be affected by the Medicaid shift because they are currently able to seek reimbursement for a variety of services provided to disabled children to a tune of $4 billion annually. That means money to reimburse schools for speech and occupational therapy, specialized playground equipment, and even wheelchairs is now in jeopardy.

Advocates for the disabled say House Republicans would allow states to no longer consider schools as eligible Medicaid providers.

To read all of the story by DisabilityScoop click here.

 

GOP Health Bill Could Undermine Coverage Under Employer Plans

Under the GOP’s repeal of Obamacare, the most wealthy get a tax break, while the poor will have benefits rolled back under the Medicaid program, according to an analysis by the New York Times.

But what about those who get their health insurance through their employer? Not our problem, right? Think again.

The Wall Street Journal reports that many people who obtain health insurance through their employers could be at risk of losing protections that limit out-of-pocket costs of catastrophic illness. That’s about half of the country, folks.

“It’s huge,” Andy Slavitt, former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama told the Wall Street Journal. “They’re creating a back door way to gut employer plans, too.”

Hardly noticed among the debate over pre-existing conditions, this change came in a last-minute amendment to the House Republican health-care bill that passed by four votes.

The House bill would allow large employers to choose the benefit requirements from any state including those that are allowed to lower their benchmarks under a new waiver, The Wall Street Journal reported.

By choosing a waiver state, employers looking to lower their costs could impose lifetime limits and eliminate the out-of-pocket cost cap from their plans under the GOP legislation.

 

Health care analysts say the real question is, would employers do this?

“Many wouldn’t,” said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Many employers offer quality benefits to attract employees. But employers are always looking for ways to lower costs.”

Fifty-nine percent of covered employees who were in an employer plan had a lifetime limit on how much their insurance plans would cover before the ACA, Mr. Levitt said.

To read all of the Wall Street Journal story click here.

 

Polls: Support for Obamacare hits all-time high

Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that the Trump Administration will end “America’s Obamacare nightmare.”

But it appears more and more Americans don’t view the Affordable Care Act the same way as Republicans in Washington D.C.

President Trump and Republicans have promised to repeal Obamacare but have been subject to backlash when they head back home to talk to voters at town halls.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, in its latest Health Tracking Poll, found support for the insurance safety net at an all-time high. It’s survey found that 48 percent of Americans view the law favorably, compared to 42 percent — the highest level of favorability measured since the tracking started in 2010.

Voters who say they are registered independents contributed to the boost, half of whom view Obamacare favorably compared to 39 percent who don’t.

FILE - President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Care Act as Marcelas Owens, 11, left, whose mother died lacking insurance, looks on, in Washington, March 23, 2010. The Affordable Care Act has shifted the nation's baseline expectations for how health care should work. With the law on the precipice of repeal, public opinion has suddenly tipped in its favor. (Doug Mills/ The New York Times)
President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Care Act on, in Washington, March 23, 2010.

And the Kaiser poll doesn’t seem to be an outlier. The Pew Research Center found 54 percent of Americans approve of the ACA — which is also the highest level record by Pew.

To read more on the Obamacare polls read CNN’s by clicking here. 

Women seeking 1 kind of birth control in droves after Trump election

Florida Atlantic University senior Kheyanna Suarez is under pressure.

It is not from upcoming exams.

It’s the worry that her ability to pay for birth control might disappear under new President Donald Trump.

Suarez’s intrauterine device (IUDexpires in about six months, but she doesn’t know whether the Affordable Care Act will still be around to foot the bill. Trump has made it a priority to repeal Obamacare, which made it a right for every woman to obtain affordable birth control.

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Florida Atlantic University senior Kheyanna Suarez says she is worried under President Trump she will no longer be able to afford birth control.

His new Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals judge, is best known for ruling that Hobby Lobby could deny coverage for employees for birth control because of the company’s Constitutional right to religious freedom.

And Trump’s nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services — Georgia Congressman Tom Price — told the Senate during his confirmation hearing month that women should pay for birth control.

“This all puts me in an awkward position,” said Suarez, who is studying exercise science and health promotion at FAU in Boca Raton. “I’m kind of nervous. Should I reach out to the doctor and try to renew the prescription now or I should wait? I don’t know how to go about it.”

Suarez is not alone in her conundrum. Women who rely on Obamacare to make their birth control affordable are making a run on getting IUDs before the coverage becomes a political casualty.

data set compiled by analysts for the electronic health record AthenaHealth reported intrauterine device prescriptions and procedures increased 19 percent between October and December.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America reports that since the election, the number of women trying to get an appointment for an IUD went up 900 percent.

Without Obamacare, out-of-pocket costs for IUDs can range from $500 to $1,000, the organization reports.

Regionally, Planned Parenthood says the number of patients who had an IUD placement increased and in some cases doubled at eight health centers in South Florida since Trump’s upset win in November.

For women concerned about paying for contraception under Trump, the IUD offers a long-term solution that could outlast his presidency. The T-shaped intrauterine device is inserted into the uterus and — depending on the type chosen — can prevent pregnancy from three to 10 years.

The concern of some women about a Trump presidency was seen in protests in Washington D.C. and throughout the country following the billionaire’s inauguration. With Trump expected to be at his Mar-a-Lago estate on Palm Beach this weekend, woman are planning to march on Saturday in West Palm Beach.

Laura Goodhue, executive director for Florida Planned Parenthood, said 55 million nationally have taken advantage of no-copay birth control under Obamacare. She said Trump’s HHS nominee, Price, is disconcerting.

“He has a long extreme record of opposing no co-pay birth control,” she said.

Goodhue said ACA also protects women’s health by giving women access to pap smears and preventative services. Without Obamacare, insurance companies could reduce coverage by declaring a whole host of conditions as pre-existing, including yeast infections and pregnancies, she said.

For many women, the health care program allowed them to get IUDs. Planned Parenthood in South Florida saw an increase of 517 percent in the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives between 2013 and 2016.

“An IUD is a very effective form of birth control for women,” she said. “Not every birth control method is right for every woman.”

 

shortened: People carry anti-Donald Trump signs at the Women's March on Palm Beach on Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheatre. Damon Higgins / Daily News * original: People carry anti-Donald Trump signs at the Women's March on Palm Beach at the Meyer Amphitheatre Saturday afternoon, January 21, 2017. Those who participated said the came out to show a united front in the fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups. Organizers estimated that around 7,000 people showed up for the rally. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post.
People carry anti-Donald Trump signs at the Women’s March on Palm Beach on Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheatre. (Photo: Damon Higgins)

Suarez was one such woman. In high school, she missed weeks of classes because of severe cramps due to her menstruation cycle.  The side-effects to contraceptive pills put them out of the question. The IUD was a solution.

“I did not vote for Trump. What he is trying to take on now does worry me,” she said. “I’m hoping our communities and legislators wake up.”

Dr. Maureen Whelihan, an OB-GYN in Greenacres, said she hasn’t seen the IUD trend hit her practice, but she said the increase in the use of the devices under Obamacare should be applauded by Trump and his supporters.

“The number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions was down in the last couple years and I really attributed this to the availability of birth control and well-woman visits,” she said.

“If the conservative movement says ‘We don’t want everybody to have this coverage,’ the end result will be unintended pregnancies and abortions,” the doctor said.

Suarez said she feels that the new President Trump has simply made it harder to be a woman in America.

“I feel I am even more so at a disadvantage now for being a woman,” she said. “And, like we’ve done before, we will have to overcome it — as women. I am confident that in my community the activism we see now will have a positive result.”

Study: Red states could lose big in Trump’s repeal of Obamacare

New President Donald Trump has made repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority.

But a study out of Harvard finds that such a repeal could hurt some of his most ardent supporters in red states. The study focuses on Southern red states who have expanded Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Rolling this portion of the ACA back could have dire consequences for states like Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

States that have not expanded Medicaid for ideological reasons — such as Florida and Texas — may be less affected, the study from Harvard’s Department of Health Policy and Management. The survey of Texas found that Obamacare had a negative impact, for instance.

“The economics of rolling back Medicaid expansion strongly suggest that doing so would harm patients, hospitals, and state budgets,” stated an article in the New England Journal of Medicine published this week. 

Researchers Benjamin Sommers and Arnold M. Epstein have been doing telephone surveys for four years of low-income adults in Southern states to gauge the effectiveness of Obamacare.

“Our survey provides insight into the current views of many adults living in red states, and the verdict is clear: in states that have embraced coverage expansion despite their political leanings, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has made a positive difference that is recognizable to the people whose lives have been most directly affected by it,” their article stated.

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Though 19 states declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA, 13 states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have opted for expansion since 2014. West Virginia and Kentucky have experienced among the largest proportional increases in Medicaid enrollment in the country.

The researchers said that the question is not whether many Americans — even those in thoroughly red states — have benefited from the ACA, but whether that will be enough to save it.

Study: Red states could lose big in Trump’s repeal of Obamacare

New President Donald Trump has made repealing the Affordable Care Act a top priority.

But a study out of Harvard finds that such a repeal could hurt some of his most ardent supporters in red states. The study focuses on Southern red states who have expanded Medicaid as part of Obamacare. Rolling this portion of the ACA back could have dire consequences for states like Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.

States that have not expanded Medicaid for ideological reasons — such as Florida and Texas — may be less affected, the study from Harvard’s Department of Health Policy and Management. The survey of Texas found that Obamacare had a negative impact, for instance.

“The economics of rolling back Medicaid expansion strongly suggest that doing so would harm patients, hospitals, and state budgets,” stated an article in the New England Journal of Medicine published this week. 

Researchers Benjamin Sommers and Arnold M. Epstein have been doing telephone surveys for four years of low-income adults in Southern states to gauge the effectiveness of Obamacare.

“Our survey provides insight into the current views of many adults living in red states, and the verdict is clear: in states that have embraced coverage expansion despite their political leanings, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has made a positive difference that is recognizable to the people whose lives have been most directly affected by it,” their article stated.

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Though 19 states declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA, 13 states won by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election have opted for expansion since 2014. West Virginia and Kentucky have experienced among the largest proportional increases in Medicaid enrollment in the country.

The researchers said that the question is not whether many Americans — even those in thoroughly red states — have benefited from the ACA, but whether that will be enough to save it.