Bazelon Center Condemns Passage of House Healthcare Bill

Bazelon Center Condemns Passage of House Healthcare Bill

The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) today by a vote of 217-213. The AHCA repeals the Affordable Care Act’s crucial protections for people with preexisting conditions and guts the Medicaid program, which provides crucial services for people with disabilities. The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law condemns the passage of this bill.

“The House voted today to eliminate health insurance for 24 million people and gut protections for people with disabilities,” said Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy. “The bill, if enacted, would drastically impact the lives of people with mental illness. It both eliminates the Medicaid Expansion and fundamentally changes the original Medicaid program. Medicaid is the largest payer for behavioral health services in the United States and provides community-based services to millions of Americans with mental illness and other disabilities. All of those services are now at risk.”

The bill also eliminates the requirement that Medicaid cover mental health services as an Essential Health Benefit, reduces the tax credits and cost sharing subsidies that help people buy health insurance, penalizes people who can’t afford to buy health insurance by making them pay higher premiums later, and allows health insurance companies to charge older Americans more in premiums.

“And the bill was amended at the last minute to be even more destructive,” said Bethany Lilly, Deputy Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy. “The version that passed the House allows states to eliminate the Essential Health Benefits requirement, which mandates that health insurers cover mental health services, and permits health insurance companies to charge people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions more for health insurance. We know, based on the public statements of many Senators, that there are serious concerns in the Senate about the bill, especially the changes it would make to the Medicaid program. We urge the Senate to reject this destructive bill.”