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.