Health care reform: ‘This is the time to act’

Boston Children's Hospital helps families understand the AHCA.
Sandra L. Fenwick, Boston Children’s Hospital President and CEO, far right, joins patients, families and staff at Family Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., June 2016.

Since the new year began, we’ve been working hard to educate everyone — our employees, staff, volunteers, patients, families and friends — about what the conversation about health care in Washington D.C., means for children. We have very serious concerns about the possible impact that the efforts to quickly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could have on our patients and their families.

Many of you share our concerns and have demonstrated this to us time and again. Maybe you came to our Special Grand Rounds held on May 31, shared The Hill op-ed authored by our President and CEO, Sandra L. Fenwick, with your social media networks or participated in our Facebook Live discussion about the legislation.

The Facebook Live discussion actually took place just as the Senate Republican leadership released its version of a health care reform bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act. We wanted to provide a brief update to our community, particularly as we approach a critical window of activity in Congress.

What is the Better Care Reconciliation Act?

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) is a Senate bill that includes many provisions that are very similar to its cousin, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was approved by the House of Representatives in May. Among other things, the BCRA:

  • will result in more than 20 million people being uninsured, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office
  • fundamentally alters the Medicaid program from a federal/state partnership to one of limited or “capped” federal support, resulting in approximately $772 billion in federal cuts to states and 15 million people losing coverage
  • allows states to lower income eligibility from 133% to 100% of the federal poverty line for school-age children beginning in 2020
  • ends the Medicaid expansion program for low-income adults by phasing out its funding
  • undermines the patient protections put into place by the Affordable Care Act, such as allowing states to institute six-month waiting periods for the purchase of insurance
  • repeals the Affordable Care Act requirements of individuals and employers to be responsible for insurance and provides subsidies at less generous levels to help people purchase insurance.

What can I do to help?

The Senate leadership is working to secure enough votes to pass the bill following the congressional recess the week of July 4, so right now is is the time to act.

The best thing you can do is contact your senators. The Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121 and they can connect you to any Senate office. Email and social media are also great ways to reach out to your elected representatives. If you live in a state represented by one of these senators, it is especially important that they hear from you. Tell them you don’t want to see your senator support a bill that drastically changes and reduces the Medicaid program. Also check out Speak Now for Kids for some great talking points and information for your outreach about the importance of Medicaid to children.

Alaska: Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK) @lisamurkowski

Arizona: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) @JeffFlake

Arkansas: Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) @SenTomCotton

Colorado: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) @SenCoryGardner

Louisiana: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) @BillCassidy

Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) @SenatorCollins

Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) @SenDeanHeller

Ohio: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) @robportman

Pennsylvania: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) @SenToomey

West Virginia: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) @SenCapito

If you don’t live in one of these states, reach out to your family and friends who do. Health Care for All is hosting a “Friends & Family” campaign on their website, which can give you ideas about how to facilitate that. Constituents have the most impactful voice in talking to their own Senate offices.

Stay in touch with the Office of Government Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital.

 

AAmy DeLong in the manager of Government Relations at Boston Children's Hospital.bout the blogger: Amy Judge DeLong is the manager of Federal Government Relations at Boston Children’s Hospital.