Voices for Ohio’s Children is very concerned about the passage of the American Health Care Act by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday and the potential impact this vote will have on Ohio’s children and families. This is just the first step in a very lengthy process, but it deserved a much more thoughtful and deliberative public debate that fully engaged constituents and allowed for comprehensive analysis, including an updated score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
Throughout its more than 20-year history, Voices has been committed to advancing children’s healthcare amid a growing, changing, fluid American health care system. We remain dedicated to ensuring Ohio kids and their families have full access to quality, affordable care. This has been and continues to be our priority for health care reform. Unfortunately, the current House bill falls short and does not provide the essential protections Ohio families have come to rely on.
The version just passed by the U.S. House would result in at least 24 million more uninsured people within a decade and puts the coverage and overall health of our most vulnerable citizens, including children, people with disabilities and pregnant women, at risk. The bill also places a cap on federal funding for Medicaid, devastating state budgets and leaving state and local taxpayers responsible for the incurring costs. This cap on Medicaid will leave 1.3 million children across the state vulnerable to a loss of coverage. This measure also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, including kids with asthma, diabetes, and heart defects. This bill’s inclusion of an additional $8 billion to fund high-risk pools will not cover the cost of care for these kids and other people suffering from pre-existing conditions. In addition, the bill gives insurers the ability to impose annual and lifetime caps again, which as we know from past experience can result in the denial of coverage for life-saving treatments. Finally, the legislation rolls back Medicaid expansion, which has improved access to essential services, overall health, and financial stability for over 700,000 Ohioans.
As the legislation advances to the U.S. Senate, we call on Ohio’s Senators to stand up for our state’s children, families, pregnant women, people with disabilities, seniors, and those with pre-existing conditions. We urge them to return to the drawing board and craft a new proposal that builds on the progress we have already made in children’s coverage. More than 95 percent of our kids now enjoy some kind of health insurance coverage and now is not the time to reverse this progress.