Today it was announced that the Republican plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could cause 24 million Americans to lose health insurance, the independent Congressional Budget Office estimated. The House GOP promised repeal and replace but the latest bill is just repeal and destroy. This proposal takes comprehensive, high quality, affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans, increases out-of-pocket health care costs (particularly for older adults) and destroys Medicaid. It breaks the promises Republicans have made that no one will lose their coverage or see health care cost increase. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition calls on all members of Illinois congressional delegation to oppose this current proposal. To learn more about the CBO analysis, click here.”
SPRINGFIELD, IL — Nearly one million Illinois working families would either lose their health insurance or face onerous increases in medical costs under the plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that Congressional Republicans introduced this week, according to the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition.
Coalition members urged Illinois’ Congressional delegation, especially the members of the GOP majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, to oppose the legislation, which they described as a prescription for spiraling costs and shrinking coverage in health care available to state residents. The coalition also cautioned that a bill with such jarring impacts deserves a full public debate, not the indiscriminate headlong rush to passage that has been on exhibition in the nation’s capital this week.
For the 350,000 Illinois residents who purchased private medical coverage on the Marketplace in 2017, higher costs loom as the GOP plan threatens to curb existing tax credits that have trimmed insurance premiums while eliminating financial (“cost-sharing reductions”) assistance that has lowered out-of-pocket expenses that include often-bruising deductibles.
Meanwhile, the plan would reverse the expansion of the Medicaid program, decimating an ACA reform that provided health insurance to 650,000 Illinois residents who had been previously floundering in a coverage void. Medicaid expansion would devolve back to the states by 2020 under the Republican proposal, leaving beneficiaries at the mercy of an Illinois budget already incapacitated by staggering deficits and with no foreseeable resources to continue to support the program.
Jessica’s ACA Story
Chicago-area resident Jessica Gimeno would be one of those 650,000 Illinois residents caught in the resulting coverage breach. In 2008 she was afflicted with a rare autoimmune disease that left her hospitalized and bedridden for a year. Her medical expenses averaged $900 monthly, leaving her financially distressed and physically compromised. Gimeno subsequently qualified for coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion.
“Medicaid expansion changed my life,” Gimeno said. “I have not had to worry about the costs of surgery, among many other expenses. But under this new ACA replacement plan, it appears that I’m doomed to lose my coverage. If that happens, it’s no exaggeration to say I fear for my life. I was in this plight before Medicaid expansion, so I know just how precarious conditions are without it.”
With ramifications this dire, members of the Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition condemned the cloak of secrecy that surrounded deliberations on the bill and ensuing haste to pass it with minimal public input – even before the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan agency that reviews the financial implications of legislation has had an opportunity to appraise its impacts.
“It is disastrous and reckless to jam a law through the House in one week that will literally impact millions of people in Illinois and tens of millions across the country, Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC), a Protect Our Care Illinois member said. “The people of Illinois want and deserve an open and transparent process, with actual coverage and budget implications from the CBO.”
The coalition urged all Illinois residents to contact their Congressional representatives at https://protectourcareil.org/index.php/take-action-page/, and ask them to oppose the legislation.
Last night, House Republicans released their so-called replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, which would repeal broad parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make radical and harmful changes to Medicaid that would result in millions of people losing their health care. It’s no wonder the bill’s drafters kept the content a secret as long as possible.
There is more information below on what the Republican bill does, but we need you to act now.
Call your Representative NOW, 202-224-3121 and demand that they stand strong in support of the ACA and do not vote to strip health care from millions. Call the Capitol switchboard, 202-224-3121, and enter your ZIP code to find out who your Representative is. Click here to find out who your Representative is ahead of time.
Here is what you can say:
Hello, my name is _____ and I am a resident of Illinois. I am calling to demand that Representative ____ vote against repealing the ACA and cutting Medicaid funding. The American Health Care Act is not an adequate replacement that protects my care!
TAKE ACTION to #ProtectOurCare, Call your Representative at 202-224-3121
There are three Illinois Republican House Members on the two committees debating the bill this week. They need to hear from you, too!
House Ways and Means
Peter Roskam – CD 6 @PeterRoskam (202) 225-4561
House Energy and Commerce
New polling shows that more than two thirds of voters want to keep what works in the Affordable Care Act and fix what doesn’t, rather than repeal and replace the current law. Despite this, Republicans in Congress are rushing to vote on a bill that will:
- Benefit the wealthy and healthy at the expense of those who are low-income and sick.
- Make coverage less accessible and less affordable – including a 30% “sick tax” on people who have a break in coverage.
- Increase out-of-pocket costs while eliminating many of the ACA’s benefits and consumer protections.
- Make deep cuts to Medicaid and cap federal funding for the program – which will result in reduced access to coverage and benefits for seniors, people with disabilities and children and shift costs to states.
Since there is no scoring from the Congressional Budget Office, we don’t know how much this plan will cost or how many people will lose coverage because of it. Yet, tomorrow at 10 am EST, two key House Committees, Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce, will begin the “mark-up” of the bill, just 1 day after sharing their plan with the American people. (For reference: when the Affordable Care Act was passed in the 111th Congress, the bill was posted online for public review for 30 days before the first committee markup. In addition, the House of Representatives conducted 79 committee hearings and debates over a two year period.)
We deserve careful consideration of any changes to health insurance that will impact family’s lives, financial security, and access to health care. More importantly, we deserve the right to understand the proposed changes so that we can ask questions and share our concerns with those elected to represent us.
Contact: Dave Lowitzki
[February 23, 2017] – Today, as Illinois Members of Congress are back in their districts, Protect Our Care Illinois, a statewide coalition of consumer health advocates and providers, call on elected officials to stop the dangerous path towards repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and dismantling Medicaid with no viable replacement. The Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition, which launched its official online presence today, currently has over 50 members including lead agencies Access Living, ACLU of Illinois, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, EverThrive Illinois, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, Heartland Alliance, Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Legal Council for Health Justice, SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Thresholds.
Despite public disapproval, congressional Republicans are rushing down a chaotic path that could take health coverage away from 30 million people – including 1.2 million Illinoisans — and raise premiums for millions more. “Repealing the ACA will not protect our care,” said John Peller, Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition member and President/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. “Instead it will diminish coverage for millions of people in Illinois and threaten the local economy.” As Illinois grapples with an unprecedented budget crisis, repealing the ACA will result in a loss of 114,000 jobs in our state, a loss of $113.8 billion in business output between 2019 and 2023, and a loss of $2.0 billion in state and local taxes. Jobs loss would be felt across the economy and especially in rural areas, with 39,000 lost jobs in health care and 75,000 in other sectors during the first year of repeal.
The Congressional Republican plans for replacements and “repairs” don’t add up.
Every ACA “replacement” or “repair” proposal covers fewer services, for fewer people, at higher costs to the consumer. For example, the recent proposal from Congressional Republicans offers tax credits based on age and not income. As a result, a 50-yr. old millionaire would receive the same tax credit as a 50-year-old low-wage worker. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are another common element of Republican proposals. HSAs impose higher out-of-pocket costs and little help for moderate to low income families; instead HSAs merely allow wealthier people to shelter more of their income from taxation. High risk pools won’t help either: prior to the ACA, high risk pools cost Ilinoisans with pre-existing conditions 150% more in premiums for plans with inadequate coverage and dangerous lifetime limits. These have all been tried before – they don’t work.
Protect Our Care Illinois coalition members demand that Illinois’ Congressional Delegation publicly oppose a repeal of the ACA and any Medicaid block grant or Per Capita Cap proposal. Both would rip care from millions and cause chaos through the whole health care system. Here’s what at stake for Illinois families if Congressional Republicans continue the path towards repeal:
- Kids will lose free preventive services, like vaccinations and vision screenings
- Seniors will pay more for prescription drugs due to the reopening of the donut hole
- People with disabilities and chronic illnesses will lose protections against discrimination
- Adults and children will lose protections against annual and lifetime limits.
Here are some of the stories of Illinois residents as told to the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition:
Jeannie from Chicago, IL:
I am a self-employed 63-year-old woman. I have “pre-existing conditions” and a chronic illness. Before the ACA, the only insurance available to me was very expensive catastrophic-type health insurance with extremely poor coverage and a sky-high deductible. Thanks to the ACA, not only can I get decent health insurance, but the ACA guarantees that basic health encounters such as wellness visits, mammograms, etc. are available to me at no cost. Thanks to the ACA, I was finally able to see a specialist and receive proper diagnosis and treatment for the conditions that are causing my chronic pain. I have no idea what I will do without the ACA.
Heather from Wood River, IL:
While I was in college, I was able to remain on my parent’s health insurance so that I could focus on school rather than a career path and college at the same time. I have a congenital birth defect as well, which without coverage, I would be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Repealing the ACA without anything to help people with disabilities means that those of us suffering with preexisting conditions could die, or be forced into major debt.
Andrea from Anna, IL:
I was blessed to not have a lapse in coverage because my COBRA ran out in December 2013. I have a pre-existing condition and would be unable to work without medication and regular doctor visits. I have also had several hospital stays and emergency room visits since January 2014, which my insurance paid most of. The ACA is the reason I can work without trying to find a full time job with benefits. Without the tax credits to help pay premiums and coverage for my pre-existing condition I would once again be unable to get health insurance.
Individuals and organizations are encouraged to join the Protect Our Care Illinois coalition here: https://protectourcareil.org/ And be part of the conversation on Twitter: @ProtectILCare and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProtectOurCareIL