DREDF, along with the entire disability community, rejoices that Senate Republican leaders have decided to not hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill, their latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Graham-Cassidy, like all of its predecessor bills, would have imposed deep cuts on Medicaid, threatened crucial home- and community-based services and supports that keep people with disabilities out of institutions, and decimated key consumer protections in the private exchanges that enable low-income people with disabilities to buy insurance with good coverage at the same cost as everyone else. The proposed law gave states a one-way “flexibility” to decide how they would reduce their Medicaid services. But this so-called flexibility would not support any state’s desire to improve coverage, respond appropriately to increased demand for low-income insurance after a public disaster or crises, or cover the array of services needed by an aging population.
We remind you of Graham-Cassidy’s failings not to give you nightmares, but because as important as this victory is, we know the battle over healthcare will continue in the U.S. The Administration and Congressional leaders have invested too much of their personal stock into overstated campaign promises to abandon future attempts at repealing Obamacare. At this time, DREDF emphasizes three actions to take:
Celebrate the power of the disability community and those steadfast ADAPT warriors who demonstrated for months on behalf of Medicaid, in Congressional offices, in halls of power at the nation’s capital, and at the sole public hearing that was granted on any of the repeal bills. Three words all Americans should say: “Thank you, ADAPT.” Together we turned the tide!
Insist that a healthcare law should be about providing care to people, not merely cutting budgets. Services and supports needed by people with disabilities, children, and seniors underlie every dollar spent on Medicaid, cost-sharing reduction on the Exchanges, or Medicaid expansion. When people get the ongoing healthcare they need, they can avoid expensive hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and contribute positively to our nation’s economic, cultural, and social life.
Remember that the total restructuring of Medicaid is a core tenet of the conservative agenda. Right now, Medicaid places open-ended responsibility on both states and the federal government to ensure that low-income people who qualify for medically needed healthcare will get it. The conservative impetus to hand states a capped amount of money, without regard for patient well-being, and without any attempt at public debate, bipartisan input, or criticism from providers, insurers, and state regulators about how healthcare actually works, will not disappear.
We need to be vigilant, proactive, united, and creative as we fight for a true U.S. healthcare system.