We Won a Victory for Health Care Last Week & Our Vigilance Must Continue

We Won a Victory for Health Care Last Week & Our Vigilance Must Continue

Last week’s canceled vote on the GOP’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) marks a victory in health care for millions of Americans young to old. Thanks to the enormous public outcry, speaking out from advocates across the country, and opposition efforts by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan called off the vote for a 2nd time on Friday, March 24, 2017.

The AHCA undermines the very core value that health care is a human right, and would have taken away insurance for over 24 million people by 2026. It would have undermined the essence of Medicaid, which is to provide care for those in need, by cutting $800 billion from the program and forcing states to cap services for children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, older adults, seniors requiring long term care services, and more. It would have given tax breaks for the wealthy and for pharmaceutical companies, while imposing an “age tax” on adults ages 50-64, allowing companies to charge these adults 5 times as much as young people. This would have raised people’s premiums by as much as $12,900, which still doesn’t account for any deductible, co-insurance or copayment costs.

The AHCA also would have raised Medicare Part B premiums and shortened the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.

In Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s press conference after the vote cancellation last week, he asked, “Are all of us willing to give a little to get something done? Are we willing to say yes to the good, the very good, even if it’s not the perfect?”

In short, this legislation would have been disastrous for the health of millions. It was not about “giving a little to get something done”, nor was it “good” for the majority of Americans. It was about taking health care away from those who need it most.

Thank you for all your efforts in saying no to the AHCA and standing for health care access and rights for millions of children, older adults, and women and men across the country. We will continue to be vigilant in protecting the integrity and longevity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs now and for years to come.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.