Health Care Bill Compromise Still a Threat to Medicaid Waivers

With no vote currently scheduled and the number of Republicans speaking out against House Bill 1275 increasing, the future of health care for many Americans is still up in the air. Though leaders on both sides of the aisle have met to modify the original plan, the proposed changes to the Affordable Health Care Act still include significant cuts to Medicaid, putting individuals with disabilities at risk of losing vital services.

The compromise – MacArthur Amendment – is named for Rep. Tom MacArthur, a moderate Republican from New Jersey who met with the more conservative House Freedom Caucus retool the AHCA in order to get it through the House.

Two of the issues garnering much of the attention are coverage of pre-existing conditions and the cuts to Medicaid.  For individuals with disabilities, those Medicaid cuts are a primary concern.

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Source: NOAM N. LEVEY AND KYLE KIM  Infographic: Tracey Dowdy

The GOP plan cuts $880 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years. For the 14 million individuals who rely on Medicaid, these cuts represent the potential for significant reductions in services.  One of the areas most impacted will be Medicaid Waivers. Under the proposal, expanded Medicaid coverage approved under Obamacare would be eliminated, future funding of Medicaid would be capped, and any increases in funding tied to inflation.

The problem, according to Lucy Beadnell, Director of Advocacy at The Arc of Northern Virginia, is that even under the current system, individuals who qualify for services sit on wait lists. At the top of the list of individuals waiting are those who qualify as Tier One – those considered to be in crisis and in need of immediate services and support. Beadnell says that in the state of Virginia alone, “That waiting list at the present time, I believe in January, was 2,907 people and we funded 494 waivers this year. So we funded one-sixth of the people that we said are in crisis and shouldn’t be waiting any longer.” She says the state of Virginia doesn’t want individuals to sit on wait lists for more than a year, yet in reality, the wait can be much longer.  Brady Boose, a teenager from Fairfax, Virginia, has been waiting for nearly ten for services he has qualified for.

The short term question is whether the Republicans can gather enough support to see the Bill passed. The long term question for those most impacted hits home on a much more personal level.

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