Last week Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., drafted an amendment to the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, which was designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). A key part of the amendment is that it would allow states to apply for waivers to some requirements in the law, meaning that states can choose to let insurers decline patients with pre-existing conditions. The AHCA already failed to get enough votes in Congress weeks ago, and again last week, even with the new MacArthur’s amendment. Why? Because it still means the loss of healthcare for 52 million Americans by 2026, raises insurance costs for anyone over the age of 40, reduces tax credits for low- and middle-income families and cuts Medicaid by 20%.
The AHCA is plainly a bad bill, and MacArthur’s amendment makes it even worse by catering to far right extremists rather than to the needs of the American people. Yet congressional leaders are trying to pull together a vote on the AHCA once again as early as WEDNESDAY. Let’s take a look at why the MacArthur Amendment is so bad.
The MacArthur Amendment to the GOP healthcare bill:
- Allows for insurance companies to discriminate based on preexisting conditions in any state that chooses to obtain a waiver
- Removes the guarantee that insurance cover benefits such as hospitalization, mental health benefits, prescription drugs and maternity care
- Brings back lifetime and annual caps on insurance benefits
- Exempts Congress from pre-existing conditions discrimination and all other provisions of the bill
What would MacArthur’s Amendment mean for Utah?
According to a 2016 report from Kaiser, 23% of Utahns have a declinable pre-existing condition (previous reports have put that number as high as 40-50%). That means that if Utah applies for the waiver under the AHCA, 23-50% of Utahns will be ineligible for healthcare. Utah has a bad track record on healthcare issues like these, indicating that the state will definitely apply for the waiver.
Pre-existing conditions denied prior to the Affordable Care Act included large and small illnesses, including back pain, ear infections, pregnancy, asthma, cancer, ulcers, diabetes and prior surgeries. “High Risk Pools” to offer insurance to these denied people did not work in Utah, resulting in 6-month waiting lists and only 3,900 people served.
Even without the waiver, insurers would be able to exclude sick people simply by cutting certain drugs, such as insulin to exclude people with diabetes, and so on.
And those are just the problems with the amendment. All the previous problems with AHCA still exist. Scroll down to see the many negative impacts the AHCA would have on Utah’s families.
The House of Representatives may vote on the AHCA as early as TOMORROW
It is essential to call your U.S. Representative TODAY! Mia Love and Chris Stewart have both told their constituents that they would insist on coverage for preexisting conditions. We are hearing that Reps. Love and Stewart are not entirely sold on this new version of the healthcare bill. District 2 and District 4 constituents – WE NEED YOU to let your congresspeople know you care about protecting healthcare for Utah and expect that they will too by opposing the amended AHCA legislation.
CALL TO ACTION
- Call your MoCs and ask them to oppose the amended AHCA bill. Remind them to support important protections on behalf of their constituents, just like they promised.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (202) 224-5251 (DC) // (801) 524-4380 (SLC) // (801) 375-7881 (Provo) // (435) 634-1795 (St. George) // (801) 625-5672 (Ogden) // (435) 586-8435 (Cedar City)
Sen. Mike Lee 202-224-5444 (DC) // 801-524-5933 (SLC) // 435-628-5514 (St. George) // 801-392-9633 (Ogden)
Rep. Rob Bishop (Congressional District 1): 202-225-0453 (DC) // 801-625-0107 (Ogden)
Rep. Chris Stewart (Congressional District 2): 202-225-9730 (DC) // 801-364-5550 (SLC) // 435-627-1500 (St. George)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Congressional District 3): (202) 225-7751 (DC) // (801) 851-2500 (UT)
Rep. Mia Love (Congressional District 4): (202) 225-3011 (DC) // 801-996-8729 (West Jordan)
- Sign petitions. Calling is always better than signing petitions, and only takes a minute or two. But if you can’t get on the phone today or have extra time to call AND sign, please sign this petition, this petition and this petition, or use this online letter from to write your MoCs, all trending now on our Petitions, Petitions! page.
AHCA Impacts for Utah Families:
(from the Utah Health Policy Project)
- Reduces financial assistance for tens of thousands of Utah families by replacing income-based subsidies with age-limited tax credits
- Fact: Under the repeal bill, a Utah family of 4 in their 30s earning $120,000 a year will pay LESS in premiums than same family making $40,000
- Raises doctor co-pays and deductibles for 72% of Utahns enrolled in marketplace insurance by eliminating cost-sharing assistance
- Spikes insurance premiums by 20-30% for older Utahns [age 40+]
- Penalizes Utahns with a 12-month, 30% surcharge on insurance premiums if they don’t sign up—essentially a “sick penalty” because only the desperately sick will pay the extra cost
- Cuts Medicaid funding by $882 billion—leading to coverage & benefit cuts
- Repeals $1 trillion in taxes (over 10 years) on high-income earners, drugmakers, insurers, medical device makers, and executive salaries
- Funds Medicaid in block grants, meaning there will be a cap on the federal funding for Medicaid to each state no matter how many participants are enrolled, leaving states to foot the rest of the bill or to deny treatment and services
Utahns at risk for losing their health coverage:
- 197,187 Utahns covered by ACA marketplace insurance this year—up 12.3% (including the nation’s highest percentage of children: 25% of Utah kids are enrolled in ACA coverage)
- Utah communities with the highest ACA enrollment totals, including Lehi, South Jordan, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, St. George, and Draper.
- 400,000 Utahns—mainly kids, pregnant women, and people with disabilities—will see drastic cuts to Medicaid coverage and benefits
- 167,000 Utahns who currently receive premium subsidies based on their income and family size to reduce their monthly insurance costs
- 142,000 Utahns who depend on the ACA’s cost-sharing reductions to limit their doctor office co-pays and annual deductibles
- Anyone who drops or loses employer-based insurance and waits more than 63 days to enroll again will be penalized with a 30% premium surcharge for 12 months