Press Statement: New Congressional Health Care Plan Hurts Even More Montanans

New Congressional Health Care Plan Hurts Even More Montanans

Montanans Call on Senate to Reject Amended House Plan that Raises Costs and Guts Protections for Pre-existing Conditions 

Helena, MT – Montana advocates for affordable healthcare are calling on Senators Tester and Daines to stand up against the latest version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which repeals the Affordable Care Act and puts in place a new bill that will result in millions of people losing coverage and decimates our nation’s healthcare system.

“The bill passed by the US House of Representatives is even worse for Montanans and our state than the bill presented earlier this year, putting at risk the health care coverage of hundreds of thousands of Montanans who have pre-existing conditions, as well as, seniors, people with disabilities, and children and families that are on Montana’s Medicaid program,” says Heather O’Loughlin, co-director of the Montana Budget and Policy Center. “AHCA represents a dramatic and unprecedented cut to Medicaid and is not a solution that will work for Montana.”

The bill passed by the House of Representatives today is even worse than the bill presented in March, as GOP leaders moved further to the “right” to obtain the necessary votes. This bill, as passed by the House, will continue to:

  • Increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs for tens of thousands of Montanans accessing coverage through the Marketplace;
  • Effectively end Montana’s bipartisan Medicaid expansion, which has provided affordable health care coverage to 71,000 Montanans;
  • End Medicaid as we know it, which provides coverage to over 240,000 Montanans, shifting over $3 billion in Medicaid costs to the state of Montana over 10 years and forcing the state to reduce coverage and/or cut services for seniors, people with disabilities, and families; and
  • Provide massive tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, on the backs of average Montanans who will face loss of coverage or increased health costs.

Instead of fixing these problems, the new version of AHCA is worse, putting at risk coverage for hundreds of thousands of Montanans who have a pre-existing condition. States would receive almost automatic approval to waive the ACA’s “community rating” requirements by creating or participating in a high-risk pool. This means individuals who face a pre-existing condition, like cancer, heart disease, or even pregnancy, would likely see premiums so high that it would be unaffordable. States will also be allowed to waive the ACA’s “Essential Health Benefits” requirement by simply attesting – without cited evidence – that their purpose is to lower costs and improve coverage levels. Therefore, it is likely we return to a state where women will be charged more than men for insurance, and plans will once again come with annual and lifetime limits on coverage. Evidence has shown high-risk pools don’t work. It is likely that one out of every ten Montanans would lose coverage due to their pre-existing conditions.

“This proposal takes a bad bill and makes it worse,” said Sarah Howell, Executive Director, Montana Women Vote. “We cannot go back to the days where individuals were being denied coverage or forced into high risk pools that were outrageously expensive and covered very little.”

“This plan effectively ends the bi-partisan Medicaid expansion passed in Montana,” said Jacquie Helt, Montana State Director of SEIU 775. “The 71,000 Montanans who waited for coverage will have the rug pulled out from under them. This doesn’t just hurt workers, it also hurts rural hospitals.”

 

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