The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives will have a devastating impact on Florida children and families. There are 24 million people who would stand to lose coverage if this bill becomes law, including 2.2 million Floridians. The bill was passed without an independent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, and with strong objections from a host of local-, state- and federal-level organizations including medical associations, civil rights groups and AARP.
“The AHCA would shift $7 billion in Medicaid costs to Florida over the coming decade. State lawmakers would inevitably have to choose between making massive cuts to education, transportation or other areas of the budget or —more likely — instituting stringent requirements and cutting off residents from much-needed health care coverage.
Further, since this bill allows states to waive protections for pre-existing conditions, Floridians with cancer, diabetes and asthma could be denied life-saving health care coverage. The last-minute amendment to the AHCA, which added $8 billion to fund high-risk pools, comes nowhere close to covering the cost of care for people with pre-existing conditions. In fact, Florida lawmakers would have to scramble to come up with $2.8 billion annually in state funds for the high-risk pool.
It is critically important to prioritize the fundamental health care needs of vulnerable residents of the state, including children, seniors and adults with disabilities. They are the ones who face the brunt of all the negative effects of the AHCA unless the U.S. Senate rejects this harmful legislation. Florida already has thousands of uninsured residents, and this is on top of urgent public and health care crises, such as what we are seeing right now with Opioid abuse and the state’s disappointing lack of mental health funding.
The state’s long-term economic and social outcomes are determined by the level of support and care we provide for our most vulnerable citizens. Doing so requires us to prioritize the needs all Floridians.
We now call on Florida’s U.S. Senators to protect our state’s residents, whose health and well-being will be in jeopardy if this ill-informed bill becomes a law.