The U.S. Senate’s latest version of federal health care reform legislation keeps the harmful provisions that we’ve seen in every ‘repeal and replace’ bill to date– an end to Medicaid expansion, drastic cuts to the program, a capped funding structure and the weakening of protections for people with pre-existing conditions. By capping and cutting Medicaid, the legislation would shift the costs and risks of care for Floridians, straining the state budget and exposing low-income Floridians to exorbitant out-of-pocket medical costs.
Although Florida has not yet expanded Medicaid, we have seen important gains in the state’s insured rate under the Affordable Care Act. Thousands of low- and moderate-income Florida families have been able to purchase quality health insurance through the affordable care Marketplace– more than in any other state. Uninsured rates will once again spike upward if this legislation is enacted.
Any minor adjustments Senate leadership has made to the bill will not remedy the devastating coverage loss projected by the Congressional Budget Office under earlier versions of the legislation. Alarmingly, an effort is reportedly underway to hurry the bill to the Senate floor for a vote next week, while constituents, experts and legislators have been given no opportunity to weigh in.
Florida’s Senate delegation must reject this legislation, which was developed in the shadows and puts at risk the health of children, people with disabilities, and seniors, and instead work to improve current law.
The U.S. Senate should engage in an open and thoughtful dialogue to enhance the Affordable Care Act to increase access to affordable health care for the millions of low-income Floridians struggling to make ends meet.