The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is now making its way to the U.S. Senate. The bill, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, threatens the health care of children and youth here in Allegheny County. If enacted, the legislation would fundamentally change the funding structure of Medicaid by placing per capita caps on spending and giving states the option of block granting Medicaid funds. This would reverse decades of success providing health insurance coverage and care to children in Pennsylvania and across our country.
In Allegheny County, 41 percent of the Medicaid population is children, more than any other recipient group. As of January, more than 97,000 children received Medicaid benefits. Medicaid funds children’s preventive care and screening, treatment to resolve health problems that harm children’s development and behavioral health services. School districts receive Medicaid funds to offset a portion of special education costs. During the 2014-15 school year, Allegheny County districts received more than $6.5 million.
Of all the federal funds that support Pennsylvania, 60 percent are allocated to Medicaid. If federal funding decreases, the state would have less money to pay for all other state services.
As passed by the House, the AHCA would:
- Turn Medicaid into a per capita cap and block grant, which would limit federal funding;
- Roll-back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. This would significantly reduce the number of adults insured. In Pennsylvania, in the beginning of 2016, 702,800 adults obtained health care due to the Medicaid expansion;
- Put funding for children with greater needs, including those receiving medically-eligible early intervention or special education services, at risk;
- Provide states the option to cut essential health benefits, which include preventive and pediatric services, like oral and vision care for children, and waive protections for pre-existing conditions.
So, how did local legislators vote? Representatives Mike Kelly, Tim Murphy and Keith Rothfus voted in favor of the American Health Care Act. Representative Mike Doyle voted against the bill.
Pennsylvania state senators need to hear from you! Contact Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey today and urge them to vote against this bill. Click here for their contact information.