Yesterday afternoon, the Senate released a tax bill that would eliminate the penalty for not having health insurance established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that repealing the individual mandate would cause 13 million people to lose their health insurance by 2027, including 4 million in the first year alone.
Without the individual mandate, younger, healthier people would lack incentive to purchase health insurance and would exit the individual market. This means that the people that remain in the individual market will be older, in poorer health, and require more expensive care, which will increase premiums. The CBO estimates that premiums would increase by about 10 percent in most years between 2018 and 2027, which could make it more difficult for people to afford health insurance in the future.
Congress could vote on this bill as early as tomorrow. Please call 202.224.3121 and tell your member of Congress to vote no on this bill that could hurt millions of people’s access to health care. You can choose to be connected to your Senator or your Representative.
Information on New York Targets:
- Representatives Zeldin, King, Donovan, and Stefanik have all said that they will vote “NO.” Please thank them and encourage them to stand strong!
- Representatives Faso, Tenney, and Katko are leaning toward voting “NO.” Please help push them to a definitive “NO” vote.
- Representatives Collins and Reed are supporting the bill.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives adopted a budget resolution that paves the way for the federal government to approve up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to wealthy people and corporations with only Republican votes.
What’s a budget resolution?
A budget resolution is a piece of legislation that outlines the congressional budget. It establishes how much the federal government is allowed to spend and in which categories (for example, transportation) and how much they can increase the federal debt or deficit. The resolution can also include budget reconciliation instructions, which allow the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass budget-related measures with fewer votes and without filibusters from opponents.
The budget resolution just passed includes reconciliation instructions, which means that Republicans, who have majorities in both houses, could pass major tax legislation without the support of their democratic colleagues. Democrats who disagree with the tax legislation would also be very limited in their ability to delay or stop the vote.
How is this related to health care?
Any tax cuts will eventually have to be paid for. The budget resolution that ultimately passed did not specify which programs would be cut in order to pay for the tax legislation, but an earlier version of the budget resolution introduced in the House gives us a pretty good idea of what the cuts might look like. This earlier version of the resolution called for $5.8 trillion over 10 years in cuts to programs that help low- and moderate-income families. This included a devastating $1.8 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and other health care programs, which would hurt millions of children, families, and seniors.
What does this mean for consumers right now?
Nothing yet. The budget resolution is a set of guidelines. It will not be submitted to the President, and it does not have the force of law. However, Congress is planning on releasing formal tax legislation as early as next week, which if passed by both houses, would affect consumers beginning in 2018.
Check back with HCFANY in the coming weeks for updates on the budget and other federal health care policy issues.
Follow up to “The Future of CHIP in New York” posted on September 19, 2017.
Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Child Health Plus in New York, expired on September 30. Together, Child Health Plus and Medicaid cover more than 2.6 million children in New York State. New York also has universal health insurance for kids thanks in large part to these two vitally important programs. This delay in CHIP funding renewal puts the health of all of these children at risk. Congress must act now to renew CHIP funding before any child in New York or the nation loses their health coverage.
HCFANY’s Children, Youth, and Families Task Force is circulating an organizational sign-on letter to Congress urging them to renew funding for CHIP for at least five years. You can sign your organization on to the letter here. Sign-ons will be accepted until today, Thursday, October 5, at 5PM.
For more information on why CHIP is so important to New York’s kids, you can view our fact sheet here.
Medicaid is the single largest insurer for children in the United States. The program covers more than 35.5 million children nation-wide and more than 2 million children in New York State alone. On May 4, the House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and cut more than $830 billion from the Medicaid program. In addition to these dramatic cuts, Congress has also proposed to lower the federal minimum Medicaid eligibility threshold for children under 19 from 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (about $28,000 for a family of three) to 100 percent of FPL (about $20,000 for a family of three). A new policy brief from the Institute for Child, Youth, and Family Policy at Brandeis University shows what these cuts to Medicaid and change in eligibility will mean for school-aged children.
According to the policy brief, there are currently 15.2 million children eligible for Medicaid coverage in the U.S. The proposed change in the federal minimum eligibility for the Medicaid program would reduce the number of eligible children by 4.7 million. The brief also explains that eligible children are disproportionately Black and Hispanic or Latino. This is also true in New York State. According to the brief, New York ranks fourth in the nation for the number of Hispanic or Latino children who would lose Medicaid eligibility under this change (90,600) and fifth for the number of Black children who would lose Medicaid eligibility (48,400).
New York State has always been a leader in children’s health coverage. New York currently has an insurance rate for children of more than 97 percent, and all children under the age of 19 are eligible for health insurance regardless of immigration status. New York State also has a Medicaid eligibility level for school-aged children of 149 percent of FPL (about $30,000 for a family of three) through 2019, which is greater than the federal minimum eligibility under the ACA. However, even with these many steps in the right direction, Black and Hispanic or Latino children remain more likely to be uninsured than other New York children. Cuts to Medicaid and reduction of the federal Medicaid eligibility level would be a huge step backward and only serve to exacerbate existing health inequities for New York’s children.