(Chicago) – TASC stands in opposition to the proposed massive cuts to Medicaid under the U.S. Senate’s draft Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We share this opposition with our partners—including the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, and the National Council—along with a majority of Americans.
Under the Senate’s proposed bill, the expansion of Medicaid that occurred under the ACA would be reversed, with phase-out beginning in 2021. By making Medicaid expansion much more expensive for states, they will be more likely to end their expansion programs.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Illinois was among the majority of states that expanded Medicaid, which provides federally funded health insurance for low-income people. By attacking this key provision, both the U.S. House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) and the Senate’s version of the bill topple the cornerstone upon which significant aspects of Illinois’ interconnected public health and public safety strategies rely.
Additionally, both the House and Senate versions give states the ability to modify or eliminate the ten essential benefit requirements, no longer safeguarding addiction treatment as an essential covered benefit—even as the opioid crisis has caused overdose deaths to skyrocket.
More than three million Illinoisans—almost one-quarter of the state’s population—are enrolled in Medicaid coverage. By diminishing Medicaid coverage, and throwing costs back on the state, the proposed legislation will further burden Illinois’ state budget, already drowning in record deficits. As an example, in behavioral health services alone, the State would have to replace an estimated $80 million per year in federal Medicaid resources to pay for community-based substance use and mental health services that would support alternatives to incarceration and reentry initiatives.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading non-partisan source for health policy analysis, reports that, “The majority of the public – regardless of partisanship – hold favorable views of Medicaid, the government health insurance and long-term care program for low-income adults and children.” Three fourths have a favorable view, and 67 percent say the program is working well for most low-income people in their state.
Drew Altman, the foundations’s president and chief executive wrote, “And you cannot cut over $800 billion from Medicaid without adversely affecting health services for the poor.”