As we head into the July 4th holiday, we celebrate what makes our country uniquely American. Freedom. Opportunity. A fair shake for those who work hard and try their best. And a moral duty to take care of the most vulnerable among us.
History and research tell us that healthcare coverage is key to enabling Americans to enjoy being American. For instance, a survey of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion recipients found that nearly half of participants reported improvement in overall health since gaining coverage. More than 20 percent saw an improvement in their financial situation and over 50 percent said that getting coverage made it easier to secure and maintain employment. Coverage also helped nearly 60 percent of enrollees cover groceries and 48 percent pay their monthly rent or mortgage. In short, access to Medicaid coverage offered them freedom from worry and symptoms associated with untreated conditions; opportunity to seek jobs; and the ability reap the rewards of hard work and responsibility.
It’s ironic then that the health care bill that will sit in the U.S. Senate over the holiday weekend goes against these American ideals.
This bill instead takes away coverage from millions of Americans, and does nothing to address the rising costs of health care including the growing expense of prescription drugs. In fact, it will raise health insurance premiums by 20 percent in the first year after passage. It will charge those 50 and older five times more for their care. People with pre-existing conditions like cancer or heart disease no longer have a guarantee of coverage they need at a price they can afford. The Senate bill also decimates our historic commitment to Medicaid, making $772 billion in cuts to the program. This means 15 million Americans— including kids, seniors, people with disabilities, and those who benefitted from Medicaid expansion, will lose their health coverage. Kids and parents will lose access to screening services that identify developmental delays or vision problems. Seniors will lose the coverage that makes it possible for them to get nursing home care.
These Medicaid cuts will put a huge strain on Ohio’s budget. State lawmakers will be forced to raise taxes, eliminate efforts to fight opioid addiction, lower provider payments that keep hospitals and rural clinics open, or kick our most vulnerable residents off their health coverage altogether.
This bill is a giant step backwards—just last year, Ohio celebrated the milestone of covering more than 95 percent of our state’s children. We don’t want to lose the tremendous progress we have made in improving the health of our children and families.
As Senate leaders return to Washington after taking part in July 4th parades and other celebrations, we urge them to remember who we are as a nation. What makes us great. And who we need to look out for—the millions of children, seniors, and families who stand to lose under this current bill.