May 2, 2017
Republicans in Congress are still working to revive the American Health Care Act (AHCA) after failing to secure enough support for the legislation at the end of March in the House. Two new amendments were recently added to the bill in hopes of drawing in support.
The first would allow states to define what is included in “essential health benefits” and then allow each state to apply for waivers to get rid of these services and cut costs.
A second amendment would provide $8 billion over five years to fund high-risk pools and go toward patients with pre-existing conditions. Early critics of this amendment say this is not enough money to cover all of the patients with pre-existing conditions who could see their premiums skyrocket.
What does this mean for prevention?
Getting rid of essential health benefits at the federal or state level would mean an end to vaccines that prevent cancer and cancer screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies.
The changes this bill would make to the Affordable Care Act would also have a devastating effect on cancer prevention and early detection by eliminating the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Doing so would take money away from community organizations providing screenings and vaccinations to those who can’t afford them.
The bill also makes it harder for individuals to purchase insurance and makes major changes to Medicaid. Those who would be at the greatest risk of losing their coverage are the ones who need it the most; low-income individuals and those ages 50 or older, who are most in need of regular screenings.
The house is voting on this bill today. Tell your representative to protect essential health benefits, coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions and the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and vote NO on the American Health Care Act.