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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Senate Moving Fast to Cut Medicaid, End Expansion

June 15, 2017 | ACA | Medicaid | Comments
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Senate negotiations on health care, including major changes to Medicaid, are moving forward with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell still aiming to hold a vote prior to the July 4 recess. Despite the huge impacts of Medicaid restructuring and funding cuts, Senate leaders have yet to release the text of their bill and, in an extraordinary move, plan to bypass the committee process completely. It is critical that mental health and addiction advocates contact their Senators over the next two weeks and urge them to oppose any health care legislation that cuts Medicaid funding.

While reports indicate that a draft of the Senate’s health care bill is nearly finished, Senate leaders have said that the bill will not be released to the public until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored the bill. It is still unclear when the CBO will have their analysis ready; CBO’s analysis of the House repeal legislation, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), estimated that 23 million people would lose health care coverage.

Individuals who gained health care coverage through Medicaid expansion would be hardest hit by the AHCA’s huge coverage losses. Americans with mental health and substance use disorders are the single largest beneficiaries of Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion has extended health care coverage to 1.29 million low-income individuals with substance use disorders and proven vital in the fight against opioid addiction by paying for between 35-50% of all medication-assisted treatment. For more facts and figures on the importance of Medicaid expansion, please see this National Council Sheet on Medicaid Expansion and find data specific to your state here. Need additional resources? Contact Michael Petruzzelli at michaelp@thenationalcouncil.org.

On Tuesday, President Trump met with more than a dozen GOP Senators and criticized the House’s proposal as too harsh and directed them to pass a more “generous” bill. Many experts had expected the Senate rewrite the American Health Care Act into a more “generous” health care bill, yet reports now show that the Senate legislation is closely aligned with the American Health Care Act, including federal caps for Medicaid and the elimination of Medicaid expansion. This is bad news for mental health and addiction treatment providers as the American Health Care Act would devastate Medicaid coverage and behavioral health services (see our earlier Capitol Connector story).

Urgent Advocacy Needed
The Senate is expected to vote in the next two weeks on health care legislation that could eliminate the Medicaid expansion and dramatically cut funding for the Medicaid. Reach out today to protect Medicaid and behavioral health. Visit our Unite4BH webpage for easy steps on how to call your Senators’ offices and for more advocacy resources. Call TODAY!