All hands on deck for the federal health reform debate

Written by: Erin Miller
Date Posted: June 16, 2017

Senate efforts to pass federal health reform—modeled on the American Health Care Act passed by the House last month—are heating up. We are increasingly concerned about the rapid Senate timeline for bringing a bill to the floor for a vote and the secretive process surrounding the bill drafting. We want our network to be ready for a rapid response next week. Please save some time on your calendar next week to call your Senator, and keep an eye out for additional information from us early next week.

Based on current reports, the Senate bill retains many of the most-harmful pieces of the House-passed version of the bill. A major concern is the conversion of Medicaid funding to per capita caps and phasing out federal Medicaid expansion funding. We have written before about the grave impacts of the House bill, which would cause 23 million Americans to lose health insurance coverage. Approximately half of all kids in Colorado are covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for at least part of the year. And the program is .

The bill passed by the House would cut $800 billion in federal funding for Medicaid, shifting costs to states. There is no way to impose these cuts on the Medicaid program without impacting coverage for kids in Colorado who need it most. The Colorado Health Institute estimated that Colorado would lose $340 million in federal funding in 2020 under the House-passed bill. The bill also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, putting kids with asthma, diabetes, heart defects and other conditions at risk. It also turns back the clock to a time when insurers could deny coverage for life-saving treatments by imposing annual and lifetime caps.

Remarkably, Senate Republican leadership will reportedly keep the bill text secret until the last possible moment—potentially unveiling the text only mid-way through the debate on repeal, and just hours before members are expected to vote on final passage. It is likely that Senate leadership will try to bring the bill to the floor for a vote the week of the June 26. Therefore, we will be reaching out to you next week to ask Senators Gardner and Bennet that they ensure that there is enough time for all of us to see the final language of the Senate bill, understand its impact on kids in Colorado with the benefit of an analysis from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and provide our input into the bill.

Erin Miller

About Erin Miller

Erin serves as the Vice President of Health Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign, leading efforts to improve health insurance coverage and quality for Colorado’s kids, improve access to health services, and ensure that every child has healthy places to live, learn, and play. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2015, Erin worked on the Accountable Care Collaborative team at the Colorado Department of Health Policy and Financing. She has extensive experience evaluating federal, state, and local policies related to Medicaid, CHIP, the Affordable Care Act, and public health programs as well as working with legislators, policymakers, constituents, and other stakeholders to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable populations. Her professional experiences range from serving as a WIC Educator and Local Area Retail Coordinator for Denver Health to serving as a Special Assistant in the HHS Office of Planning and Evaluation in Washington DC and as a Health Policy Adviser and Budget Analyst for the U.S. House Budget Committee.