In May, the House of Representatives passed legislation to undo major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week the Senate released their draft bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, and today, the CBO published its analysis of the bill's potential impact. CHCF President and CEO Sandra R. Hernández responds to the CBO's findings:
"For seven weeks after the House of Representatives passed its bill to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, Senate leaders left the public wondering what their health care bill would do. Now, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated the impact of what turns out to be a brazen plan to dismantle Medicaid.
"The CBO's report unflinchingly depicts the Senate bill's impact on vast swaths of the American people. To those of us who worry about the safety net's capacity to care for the poor and vulnerable, this report is more than an economic analysis — it is an SOS call. By 2026, 22 million Americans would lose health insurance.
"The bill that was passed by the House in May, the American Health Care Act, made massive cuts to Medicaid. Yet the Senate bill is even worse in many regards. The Senate bill would make even more draconian reductions in federal financing of Medicaid and tear gaping holes in the safety net for years to come. If resources shrink, then states, communities, and families will be forced to make unthinkable choices about providing necessary care for their loved ones. The consequences would land heaviest on the most vulnerable — millions of poor Americans, people who live with severe physical or mental disabilities, residents of nursing homes, or those who depend on long-term care and supports to live independently.
"Nowhere are the dangers greater than in California, where our Medicaid program (Medi-Cal) covers more than one in three state residents. If this plan is adopted, we face great risks: More Californians will likely delay or defer necessary care, and when they show up at clinics and emergency rooms, they will likely be sicker and costlier to treat. No segment of the health care market would be immune, and the number of Californians who file for personal bankruptcy protection because of medical debt will likely rise.
"Senate leaders developed this bill behind closed doors with no public debate and are now rushing to a vote before the American public can fully understand its contents or consequences.
"The America we strive to build isn't a Darwinian arena where the rich and strong flourish by stripping away health care coverage for low-income Americans, including children, seniors, and those with disabilities. With the CBO's analysis in hand, Congress must heed the warning."
For more information, please see CHCF's existing list of data resources and analysis of the potential impact of ACA repeal on California. Or contact Anne Sunderland.
About the California Health Care Foundation
CHCF is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.
CHCF informs policymakers and industry leaders, invests in ideas and innovations, and connects with changemakers to create a more responsive, patient-centered health care system.