June 26, 2017

Statement on U.S. Senate Health Care Legislation and CBO Estimate

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) just-unveiled estimate that 22 million more Americans would be uninsured over the next decade under the U.S. Senate’s health care bill is, in a word, devastating. The legislation, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA), would cut Medicaid by $772 billion over the same period.

Any minor adjustments to the bill that the U.S. Senate makes prior to the vote expected vote this week will not change the destructive, major provisions of the legislation — eliminating Medicaid expansion and cutting and capping Medicaid.

By cutting Medicaid and converting to a per capita cap system, the Senate bill would also effectively transfer billions of Medicaid costs and risks to Florida. Florida already has one of the most restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements and one of the lowest rates of insured residents in the nation, and a per capita cap system would only make this worse.

The legislation would have particularly negative consequences for Florida for a number of reasons. Fifty-seven percent of children in the state’s rural areas and small towns and 44 percent in metro regions — roughly 2 million — are covered by Medicaid, and over 800,000 low-income Medicare beneficiaries in Florida receive Medicaid to cover critical services not covered by Medicare. Further, the capped federal funding structure would severely impede the state’s ability to respond to crises like an economic recession, Zika or natural disasters.

Massive health care reform legislation must be discussed in the public arena, with the opportunity for experts and constituents to weigh in. Unlike the bill it seeks to replace, the ACA, this legislation was crafted with no public hearings or input, which is made apparent by the bill’s failure to protect Americans from losing what is, in many cases, life-saving health care coverage. The U.S. Senate should instead work on improving the ACA, as Florida has made impressive gains in increasing its rate of insured residents in the past few years.

Senator Bill Nelson has been vocal in his opposition to this very bad piece of legislation.  We ask that Senator Marco Rubio now follow suit and reject the BCRA.

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