Yesterday, we learned the details of the Senate’s new health care bill, which was once again written behind closed doors and without input from industry experts such as doctors, nurses, or insurers. In an effort to appease everyone, Senate leadership has shown they can please no one. It’s just more of the same—the bill decimates the safety net that protects Ohio’s children and families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities and risks health care protections for people with pre-existing conditions who need them most.
As expected, the bill’s $772 billion cut in Medicaid funding over a decade remains, as do hundreds of billions in additional cuts in the 10 years that follow. This will have a devastating impact on Ohio families, especially those of the 1.2 million kids covered by Medicaid and CHIP. The bill also maintains the original phase-out of Medicaid expansion, which has helped about 700,000 Ohioans get the care and coverage they need. Kids with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and heart conditions will no longer have a guarantee of coverage at a price they can afford—forcing families into bankruptcy as they try to keep their loved ones healthy and safe. The new skimpy plans available in the new bill will not be worth what they cost and will do nothing to lower premiums since they pool healthy people who can get away with getting the bare bone plans apart from those with chronic conditions who need expensive, comprehensive coverage. Seniors would still pay five times more for the care they need just because of their age and they could lose coverage for life-saving nursing home care.
The bill would also impact Ohio’s economy. Medicaid cuts leave Ohio with terrible choices like cutting coverage for kids, seniors and people with disabilities; reducing payments to the doctors who care for them, and rolling back benefits like doctor-recommended screenings for kids. Medicaid cuts shift the risk to the state, blowing a hole in our budget and threatening other priorities like addressing the opiate crisis—which could lead to higher taxes. Earlier this year, the Center for Community Solutions estimated that similar cuts to Medicaid could result in a $16 to $20 billion shortfall in Ohio and research from George Washington University showed Medicaid cuts could result in up to 127,000 lost jobs in Ohio, 50,000 in the healthcare industry alone.
This bill is another blow to Ohio’s kids and families. It guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions and it reverses a promise to take care those who need help the most.