The U.S. Senate announced today that it will not take a vote on the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal proposal, which would have undone key patient protections, cut and capped Medicaid, and phased-out (and by 2027 zeroed-out) all funding from the Affordable Care Act. The proposal would have been devastating – deliberately and disproportionately – for California’s health care system, ultimately resulting in $53 billion/year in cuts and over 7 million more uninsured in our state.
Millions of Californians can breathe a sigh of relief that yet another attack on their health care has been stalled – but we need to continue to be vigilant. Credit goes to the many across California and the nation that were not just alarmed, but angry and active, and who told their stories and made their voice heard to protect their health care. All the phone calls, protest, vigils, town halls, and other actions of everyday citizens made the difference in this debate and pulled us back from the brink of health care Armageddon.
We thank our Senators Feinstein and Harris and most of our congressional delegation for defending the health and financial security of millions. California had the most to lose in this fight of any state. It’s stunning that fourteen California Congressmembers remained silent as our health system was threatened with a proposal deliberately designed to disproportionately harm our state. They missed a moment for leadership, choosing party politics over their constituents and California’s care and coverage.
The lack of action by fourteen of our Congressmembers raises significant alarm about the next federal fight on the budget. The current House of Representatives’ budget resolution proposes to cut Medicaid by $1.5 trillion and Medicare by $487 billion. This is a level even beyond the horrific ACA repeal proposals. While as health care consumers we should be relieved, as citizens we need to remain alert to these other threats. We must stop the attempts to sabotage our health system by the Trump Administration, from the possibility of unilaterally defunding already budgeted cost-sharing reductions to undoing key consumer protections through regulation. We are concerned that Congress will seek these Medicaid cuts and caps in the federal budget and other legislative proposals, as a way to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations.
As long as politicians in power seek to cut our care, we need to continue to fight like hell for our health.
If we can keep the funding and framework of the ACA intact, California has shown the will and wherewithal to work around these administrative attacks in order to protect our care. We support California’s effort to maintain a three-month open enrollment period, run our own marketing and enrollment effort, and hold consumers harmless from the defunding of cost-sharing reductions. California can now continue the work of implementing and improving upon the Affordable Care Act, which has resulted in the biggest drop in the uninsured rate in all 50 states. California can and should use our progress as platform to take additional steps to cover everyone, reduce costs, and improve quality, value, and equity.