Federal health bill delayed—but keep up the pressure

Written by: Sarah Barnes
Date Posted: June 30, 2017

This week, the U.S. Senate delayed the vote on their health reform bill until sometime after the weeklong July Fourth recess. It’s clear that constituent calls and letters are having an impact. However, despite this delay, the Senate proposal could still pass, as Senate Republicans negotiate with their caucus in an effort to gain fifty votes in support of the bill.

If passed, the Senate proposal would jeopardize access to health care for Colorado kids and families. It would be the largest ever cut to the Medicaid program, which provides health insurance coverage to nearly half of Colorado kids at some point during the year. It would jeopardize access to prenatal care, newborn care, mental health care and substance abuse services. And it would reduce the tax credits available for the purchase of health insurance so that Colorado families would be spending more to buy coverage that will cover less of their health care costs.

This week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released their “score” of the Senate proposal, which showed that 22 million Americans would lose health insurance over the next decade, with 15 million losing health insurance by 2018. The Colorado Health Institute published updated estimates of the impact of the Senate proposal on Colorado, and projects that 628,000 fewer Coloradans would be covered by the Medicaid program in 2030 if the bill passes.

The Senate proposal would also blow a hole in the Colorado budget, especially given our state’s unique constitutional financial constraints. The Colorado Health Institute estimates that Colorado would lose more than $15 billion in federal funds by 2030 under the Senate proposal.

In fact, a new estimate from the Urban Institute shows that 100,000 Colorado kids would lose health insurance coverage under the Senate health reform bill, bringing our child uninsured rate up to above 10 percent in 2022. This means that a higher percentage of Colorado kids would be uninsured then at any time since 2009, before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

We urge federal lawmakers to start over, and use an open and bipartisan process to develop a health reform proposal that protects the significant gains that have been made in health insurance coverage for children and families, and that continues to improve the health care system and maintain the comprehensive benefits that are critical for children’s healthy development.

The vote on the U.S. House health reform bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is similar to the Senate proposal, was also delayed once before ultimately passing the House. We must continue to engage with our federal representatives over the holiday weekend and throughout the next month. If you see your representative home for the holiday, please speak up for Colorado kids. You can also call your Representative and Senators using the information below, and you can speak to any of these points that are important to you:

  • Share your personal stories about why Medicaid and affordable health insurance are important in your community.
  • Medicaid funding is essential to protect Colorado kids and parents. The proposed restructuring of Medicaid financing will shift costs to the states, force states to make impossible choices, and kids will get hurt.
  • Medicaid is most important in our rural areas and an important tool in helping our communities deal with the rise in opioid addiction.
  • Colorado will be particularly harmed by our constitutional financial constraints.
  • Tax credits need to make coverage more affordable in our rural areas.
  • Lawmakers should start over and use an open and bipartisan process to develop a health reform proposal that continues to improve the health care system and maintain the comprehensive benefits that are critical for children’s healthy development.

PHONE NUMBERS: Call both senators:

Sen. Cory Gardner: (202) 224-5941

Sen. Michael Bennet: (202) 224-5852

Look up your district here, then call your representative:

Rep. Diana DeGette: (202) 225-4431

Rep. Jared Polis: (202) 225-2161

Rep. Scott Tipton: (202) 225-4761

Rep. Ken Buck: (202) 225-5870

Rep. Doug Lamborn: (202) 225-4422

Rep. Mike Coffman: (202) 225-7882

Rep. Ed Perlmutter: (202) 225-2645

Sarah Barnes

About Sarah Barnes

Sarah serves as the Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign in September 2014, Sarah taught middle school English and worked as an Interventionist at Pioneer Charter School in Denver. She was a 2011 Teach For America corps member. Prior to teaching, Sarah worked as an attorney in Denver in the areas of venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate and business law, and commercial transactions. Sarah earned a BA in English from Midland University and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.