More Than 75 National Organizations Urge U.S. Senate to Defend Medicare and Medicaid

–Advocates Oppose Key Provisions in the American Health Care Act–

Washington, DC—More than 75 national organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership today, urging them to reject the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and to engage in a transparent, bipartisan dialogue on needed reforms to enhance health care access and affordability. The letter voices opposition to provisions in the AHCA that undermine Medicare’s financing and risk access to essential care for people with Medicare and Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act imposed a small tax increase on the highest earners that helped put Medicare on stronger financial footing. The AHCA’s repeal of this tax will result in lost revenues, causing the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Trust Fund to become insolvent two years earlier than anticipated. The letter expresses alarm that Congress would knowingly vote to undercut the Trust Fund.

The AHCA also advances devastating Medicaid cuts—per-capita caps—that threaten access to needed care for the 11 million people with Medicare who also depend on Medicaid. One in five people with Medicare rely on Medicaid to cover vital long-term home care and nursing home services, to help afford their Medicare premiums and cost-sharing, and more.

“Federal cuts to Medicaid…would drive states to make hard choices, likely leading states to scale back benefits, impose waiting lists, implement unaffordable financial obligations, or otherwise restrict access to services,” the letter says.

Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said, “A Medicaid cut is a Medicare cut. One in five people with Medicare rely on Medicaid to access home and community-based services and nursing home care that they would otherwise go without. Medicaid is also the lifeline that helps millions of older adults and people with disabilities afford their Medicare premiums and cost-sharing. Per-capita caps are not a viable path forward to support our aging nation; the Senate must start from scratch.”

“The AHCA risks the health and financial security of millions of older adults in our families and communities. Slashing the program’s funding by over $800 billion eliminates Medicaid’s 50-year guarantee that older adults can count on Medicaid when they need it the most. We call on the Senate to protect seniors and Medicaid,” said Kevin Prindiville, executive director of Justice in Aging.

“Simply put, this legislation is not a health care bill,” says Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “A health care bill would strengthen coverage and delivery programs. AHCA gratuitously weakens Medicare, decimates Medicaid, and guts insurance for 24 million people. We urge the Senate to reject this charade and develop a real health care bill that improves coverage and enhances the Affordable Care Act.”

Read the full letter.

Justice in Aging is a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center, since 1972 we’ve worked for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency.

The Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., established in 1986, is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization that provides education, advocacy and legal assistance to help older people and people with disabilities obtain fair access to Medicare and quality health care. The Center is headquartered in Connecticut and Washington, DC with offices throughout the country.

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Contact: Vanessa Barrington
510-256-1200 direct
vbarrington@justiceinaging.org

Medicare Rights Center – Mitchell Clark
212-204-6286
mclark@medicarerights.org

Center for Medicare Advocacy – Matthew Shepard
860-456-7790
mshepard@MedicareAdvocacy.org

About Katrina Cohens

Katrina Cohens is based in Justice in Aging’s Washington, DC office and serves as the Database Manager.